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Dr. Kent Downing hopes to grow access to dental care in Marshalltown

Posted on November 4, 2021 in Giving Back

Dr. Downing and staff outside of his dentist office

Dr. Kent Downing is one of three Iowa dentists who received 2021 educational loan repayment awards from the Fulfilling Iowa’s Need for Dentists (FIND) project, a collaborative public-private partnership. This program engages dentists to establish dental practices in designated Iowa priority counties, and to devote at least 35 percent of their practice to individuals who disproportionately face barriers to access care. This includes children and adults enrolled in Medicaid, vulnerable older adults, people with disabilities, and other historically underserviced populations. 

On Friday, September 17, Dr. Kent Downing, Main Street Dental in Marshalltown, hosted an open house to celebrate his practice, his patients, employees and the FIND award. Complete with a bouncy house and food from a local vendor, the Marshalltown Chamber of Commerce also held a ribbon cutting to recognize the newly remodeled dental office of which Dr. Downing took ownership in 2020 after Dr. John Collison retired.

Dr. Downing’s goals are to expand access to care for the underserved in the community, especially immigrant families. Dr. Downing and his staff are bilingual, the only dental practice in Marshalltown with a bilingual dentist. He accepts patients served by Medicaid’s Dental Wellness Plan and Hawki without restrictions.

“The FIND program is a collaborative effort with a specific mission that allows us to immediately impact the oral and overall health of some of Iowa’s most vulnerable populations,” said Suzanne Heckenlaible, vice president of public affairs for Delta Dental of Iowa. “Across the state, this public-private partnership is making a positive difference in Iowa communities. Delta Dental is proud to support dentists like Dr. Downing and help offset some of the startup costs of a new dental practice.”  

Dr. Downing grew up throughout the U.S. and world in a military family and served in the Army himself. He has a long history of volunteerism and public health service, including a two-year mission trip to Peru and multiple activities serving his church. He also participates in Give Kids a Smile Day, Iowa Mission of Mercy free dental clinic, school-based sealant programs, and provides training at the Marshalltown Community College Dental Assistant Program.

Since Delta Dental began the Loan Repayment program in 2002, 55 private-practice dentists have participated in the Loan Repayment and FIND programs to provide 223,000 patient visits and more than 638,000 dental services to underserved Iowans.

FIND project partners include Delta Dental of Iowa and its Foundation, Iowa Area Development Group, Aureon, The University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics, Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Dental Association, and the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, as well as numerous local organizations.

The Loan Repayment Program is a component of Delta Dental of Iowa’s Community Impact program that invests in projects that strengthen and transform the health and smiles of all Iowans. For more information, visit