Texas A&M opens new dental clinic named after state’s first Black dentist

Reveal: Family members of Dr. M.C. Cooper and prominent Dallas civic leaders gather for the unveiling of the sign bearing the name of Texas’ first Black dentist.

Dallas — Texas A&M University College of Dentistry held a dedication March 5 for the opening of a new dental clinic that it hopes will improve access to care in the south and southeast Dallas communities, areas which have been designated as dentally underserved.

The Dr. M.C. Cooper Dental Clinic — named after the state’s first Black dentist — is a 4,320-square-foot facility featuring eight operatories, digital X-ray diagnostic capabilities, a reception area, a consultation room and a classroom/conference room.

The clinic will be staff by Texas A&M College of Dentistry employees and will focus on comprehensive dental care for patients of all ages. Services will include preventive care, treatment and oral health education. Dental students, along with dental hygiene and graduate students, will also provide care under the supervision of licensed dental faculty.

“We are excited to have a presence in this community,” said Texas A&M College of Dentistry dean Lawrence Wolinsky, D.M.D., Ph.D., in a news release. “We know that access to oral health care has been out of reach for many in this area. The opening of the Dr. M.C. Cooper Dental Clinic brings us one step closer to closing the oral health care gap that exists among these vulnerable populations.”

The clinic was made possible by a $2.4 million gift from an anonymous donor, and a $780,000 donation from Delta Dental Foundation helped purchase dental equipment. An additional $2 million gift from anonymous donor will establish an endowment to provide ongoing support for the clinic.

Dr. Marcellus Clayton Cooper was born an enslaved person on the Caruth Farm, a plantation that included what is now much of North Dallas, south of I-635. Almost a year after his birth on Jan. 1, 1863, Texas slaves were freed but wouldn’t experience true freedom until June 19, 1865. After earning his dental degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, he returned to Dallas to practice in 1896. He died in 1929.

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