Behind-the-Scenes: How Tempe’s New Horizon Dental & Surgical Center is Redefining Dental Care

Madison RutherfordDecember 14, 2022
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Anyone who has had serious dental work done knows that it’s a significant financial investment, which can be a hindrance to timely treatments or quality care. And that’s just one reason that people probably don’t see a dentist as much as they should, according to Dr. Kristine Keber, clinic director at New Horizon Dental & Surgical Center in Tempe.

There are several stumbling blocks that prevent patients from seeking out and receiving the dental care they need. Finances and misinformation are two of the biggest barriers, she says.

The Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health-educated dentist says many of her patients were simply never taught why it’s important to take care of their teeth and how it relates to the rest of their body.

New Horizon is a nonprofit dental clinic that specializes in discounted dentistry and dental implants for qualifying patients with an enduring vision to make quality dentistry accessible to all. The center was founded in 2018 by Dr. Justin Moody, who identified two deficits in the dental industry: many dentists don’t receive proper training in implant dentistry and many people who need implants are unable to afford private practice fees. He sought out to meet these needs by supplying dentists with improved implantology skills and successfully restoring the smiles of patients in need.

Keber also addresses the misconception that patients are paying an arm and a leg for dental surgery just to line the pockets of wealthy doctors. “Patients will say, ‘I told the dentist I’m not getting that crown to pay for their Mercedes,’” she says. “You might actually just be helping to pay for the training we receive to be able to provide this service.”

New Horizon’s practice manager Marcella Gomez also challenges the perception that dentistry has to be expensive. She encourages patients to keep up with routine visits twice a year to prevent costly procedures down the line. “I would rather pay $80 every six months rather than paying $8,000 10 or 20 years later,” she says.

She adds that New Horizon is also unique in that it tailors the experience to each individual, creating a positive, judgement-free environment where patients can feel safe and seen. “Being able to connect with them and help support them in learning about dentistry is huge as far as educating the patients on dentistry and the fees that are attached to it and why,” she says. “Preventive health care is always the key… It’s just part of the process of sustaining not just our smiles but our eating habits and overall health.”

Keber says another barrier is a general fear of going to the dentist. According to a recent American Dental Hygienists’ Association study, nearly 20 percent of the population has moderate to high dental anxiety. According to Keber, many people had traumatic experiences at the dentist as a child that have prevented them from seeking treatment as an adult. She aims to combat this by properly educating patients on how often they should be going to a dentist and why it’s important.

Gomez adds that it comes down to gaining each patient’s trust. “Just being able to get to know the patients and find out what their needs and wants are, and what their experiences have been, we’re able to establish a relationship,” she explains.

Once that relationship has been developed with the patient, the New Horizon team helps alleviate dental anxiety by breaking down their treatment plan and being attentive to their emotions. “We want our patients to be lifers with us and be able to maintain their dentistry, oral health and systemic health throughout their duration with us,” Gomez adds.

New Horizon is also dedicated to shifting the narrative that dental offices are daunting and depressing by acknowledging the emotional aspect of dentistry.

“It’s an emotional experience for all of us as human beings to be able to smile and be able to eat. I’ve had patients that are like, ‘I just want to take pictures with my grandchildren.’ They want to feel that confidence. They want to feel self-esteem,” Gomez says. “They want to go back to a normal lifestyle of being able to eat and chew properly without any pain. What they’re really looking for is experiencing their emotional goals.”

Managing patients’ expectations is also a priority at New Horizon, which includes evaluating a patient’s daily dental routine, oral condition and overall health before discussing treatment. “I’m big on transparency, setting expectations and having those difficult conversations,” Keber says. “They’re not easy but they’re necessary.”

Along with her holistic approach to dentistry, Keber emphasizes that each patient is treated with the same standard of care, despite paying less.

“One of my favorite things about what I do is that I provide the same quality care that I would anywhere else in the world. I would be the same person showing up every day doing the same great dentistry,” Keber says. “It’s just that we charge less for it and make it more accessible to patients. I want my patients to be comfortable and trusting in me and know that I am showing up here every day doing the best I can.”

The majority of patients come to New Horizon for tooth replacements or restoration including dental implants, sinus lifts and crowns. Keber says her “unofficial specialty” is creating custom dentures.

The clinic is able to provide discounted and no-cost care through community partnerships with other organizations committed to providing healthy smiles to those who need it most. With donated equipment from Biohorizons and referrals from Phoenix Rescue Mission, healthy smiles are attainable for victims of homelessness, abuse and other life circumstances.

“It’s a big deal what we’re doing here, and I can’t wait to continue to grow with that and be able to see the community understand we’re not here for the Mercedes,” Gomez says. “We’re actually here to give back to the community and that’s what New Horizon is all about.”

6200 S McClintock Drive – Suite 115
(480) 664-2270 
Se Habla Espanol


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