County: Davidson County
County population: 162,697
Number of dentists: 28
Median household income: $44,249
• Lexington is the county seat of Davidson County.
• Lexington is nicknamed the Barbecue Capital of the world.
View images from the community.
Lexington is the county seat of Davidson County. Located in central North Carolina, Lexington boasts a host of famous barbecue restaurants, which has earned the town its nickname of the “Barbecue Capital of the world.” Visitors should also check out the Childress Vineyards along the Southern Gateway Wine Trail, the Art of Bob Timberlake and Dempsey Essick, High Rock Lake, and the Richard Childress Racing Museum.
Although a wonderful place to live, like many other rural towns, Lexington does not have enough dental-health resources for its residents. However, thanks to the establishment of one of its community service-learning centers, ECU's School of Dental Medicine is working on improving the dental health of Lexington and the surrounding Davidson County area.
ECU will partner with Davidson County Community College to build Lexington’s service-learning center on land donated by DCCC. The Davidson County Health Department has also been a partner on the project.
"We are very excited about our partnership with Davidson County Community College, the county health department and the local dental community and look forward to providing quality dental care to residents of Davidson and the surrounding counties," said Dr. Gregory Chadwick, interim dean of the School of Dental Medicine at ECU.
At the center, fourth-year dental students and dental residents will hone their patient-care techniques and learn the ins-and-outs of operating a community practice under the eyes of experienced faculty members. Once open, the center will provide a variety of services, including general, preventive and emergency dental care and will include services such as crowns, root canals and bridges.
The setting will provide students and dental residents with an opportunity to learn what practicing in a community setting is like. The school admitted its first class in 2011, and all students are North Carolina residents. Goals of the school are to improve access to dental care, to educate minority dentists and to produce dentists who have a desire to practice in underserved areas.
Mary Rittling, president of DCCC, said she's excited about the partnership with ECU. "At DCCC, we are truly a central gathering place for the county, and we look forward to offering yet one more service to the community," she said. "'Community' is the most important part of our name, and this dental clinic epitomizes our mission to serve the people of this region."
ECU dental student Diana Luckhardt, from Summerfield in nearby Guilford County, said that working in the centers will help broaden her dental education.
"If you don't get out and experience it, you don't see the need," she said. Luckhardt added that working in the centers will help teach students how to operate a dental practice.