Eastern Shore Rural Health Dental Program expands to reach more Shore residents

February 2, 2022
Stephanie Shelley

Pictured: Dr. Stephanie Shelley with patient at Pungoteague Elementary School dental office. Eastern Shore Rural Health is adding a third dental office at Nandua Middle School as part of its partnership with Accomack County Public Schools. Eastern Shore Rural Health and Northampton County Public Schools dental program activities begin in February.

New Partnership in Northampton County Begins

Dental screenings will begin in early February as part of the new Northampton County Public Schools dental program partnership. Information collected will be used to assess the oral health status of all NCPS children as well as connect children with urgent needs with care. Next, portable dental equipment will be deployed through Eastern Shore Rural Health System, Inc.’s Traveling Oral Health Prevention Program, or TOPS, to offer care to prevent dental disease. Children seen by TOPS with untreated dental disease initially will be referred to other Eastern Shore Rural Health locations. Finally, permanent dental offices will be established at each of the NCPS’ three public schools that will provide both preventive care and treat children with existing dental disease. It is anticipated that the first permanent school two-chair dental unit will open in Summer 2022 at Kiptopeke Elementary. The NCPS program will be modeled after the Accomack County Public Schools school dental program.

Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation Awards Grant in Support of NCPS Program

Eastern Shore Rural Health has received a $50,000 grant from Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation to buy equipment for the first NCPS permanent dental office.

“Supporting Virginia’s dental safety net is a critical part of our goal of creating healthy smiles throughout the Commonwealth, and we’re eager to continue assisting Eastern Shore Rural Health and others like them in their extraordinary efforts to keep our communities healthy,” said Frank Lucia, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Virginia. Since its inception in 2012, the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation has contributed more than $6 million to its partners.

New Accomack County School Dental Location to Open

A Nandua Middle School dental office is anticipated to open in April as part of the Accomack County Public Schools dental program. This location, like the two other ACPS dental offices, will offer services to both prevent and repair dental disease. Dr. Randi Wingate has been named as the NMS office dentist. Dr. Wingate has served the Eastern Shore with Rural Health for six years. Last year – during COVID – Eastern Shore Rural Health provided care to 2,548 ACPS kids through the program. Eastern Shore Rural Health’s partnership with ACPS began in 1995.

Children who attend school where an Eastern Shore Rural Health dental office is located can be called from class and seen without a parent present with the proper permissions in place.


In 2021 Eastern Shore Rural Health served 10,162 dental patients. Dr. Noel Root, the first Eastern Shore Rural Health dental program director, is retiring this year after serving the community for 17 years. Dr. Root first came to the Shore in support of Virginia Dental Association Foundation Mission of Mercy projects to provide dental services to people without a dentist. As a sign of his commitment to the dental program, Dr. Root provided a significant donation to Rural Health’s Traveling Oral Health Prevention Program (TOPS) to support services to Accomack County Public Schools students. Dr. Root has worked at ACPS school dental offices for several years and has seen tremendous improvement in the oral health of children growing up on the Shore.


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