An East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine clinic is now treating local patients experiencing oral emergencies.
The Emergency Care Clinic, located in Ross Hall at 1851 MacGregor Downs Road, is open five days each week, Monday through Friday. Patients are encouraged to call for an appointment (252-737-7832).
Service to the local community is crucial to the training process for ECU’s dental students, who staff the clinic alongside faculty dentists.
“It’s important for our learners to experience an unplanned visit,” said Dr. Kimberley Gise, clinic director. Through emergency treatment, fourth-year dental students learn practice management techniques, how to treat an emergent situation and further hone their people skills, she explained.
They also get to put an important ECU dental tenet into practice: “Never treat a stranger.” Gise said students must be sure to learn about the medications a patient might be taking, their medical history, allergies and other important details before delivering care. They aren’t able to prepare in advance as they would for a regular patient visit.
Regardless of the educational benefits, Gise reminds patients that while an emergency visit may be a necessity, it should not be the only time an individual receives dental care.
“If you wait until you’re in pain, (then) it’s not just a cleaning or filling, it’s a root canal or an extraction,” Gise said.
She hopes that patients coming to receive emergency services will transition to comprehensive care at the School of Dental Medicine.
Gise came to ECU in 2014 with more than 15 years experience in public health dentistry in the U.S. and abroad, working in both urban and rural health systems. Before moving to North Carolina, she was a dentist for the Maricopa County Department of Oral Health in Arizona. Gise has also served as a dentist to Native Americans at Phoenix Indian Medical Center, inner city youth and Spanish immigrant populations as clinic director for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix’s Dental Clinic.