Corktown welcomes commercial dentist office inside old Checker Cab building

If residents needed to see progress to believe it's taking place in Detroit, they could crane their necks to the city's historic Corktown neighborhood for the grand unveiling of its only commercial dentist office. 

Detroit Dental Spa was welcomed with a round of applause, cheers, and relief that care for one's teeth would be within walking distance.

That wasn't always the case, says Zain Ismail.

"Been here for about two years and it took me about two years to find a dental office so when they finally opened here, I was excited," he said. "Certainly dental care is part of the broader health care context. And exciting to see an investment made in the city to bring those services here."

And who can Ismail thank? Among those responsible is Dr. Ban Nacy, the dentist behind the big day.

"We wanted to bring a service right here in downtown," she said. "I just love the soul of the people and the culture and you just can talk to everyone in the street."

Nacy is following in the footsteps of her mother, who was a dentist in Iraq. Nacy first graduated from the University of Baghdad's College of Dentistry in 2003. When she came to the states seeking asylum in 2006, she went back to school and got a degree from New York University.

She had been working in New Jersey when she opened operations in Detroit since her husband is from the area. Here, they provide general dentistry, dental work, implants, fillings, and teeth whitening.

While dental care contributes to one's overall health, it's not often included in the larger health care discussion.

Detroit's chief health officer agrees - and is happy to see someone filling the need.

"We know dental health is public health and in the city of Detroit we do have a gap in services and so Detroit Dental Spa is meeting that need," said Denise Fair Razo, Detroit's chief public health officer. "We also know that there is a direct relationship between dental care and quality of life and quality health care and we need service in the city of Detroit."

"We need service right here in Corktown, and we're so happy to have Dr. Nacy and her team her," said Razo.

The University of Detroit Mercy also operates the dental center. There, student dentists provide care at a reduced cost. 

But the Detroit Dental Spa is the first of its kind. Located near Michigan Avenue and Trumbull, it found a home in the old Checker Cab Company building. 

"This kind of service, a dental office opening in the neighborhood is part of the true renaissance of the community," said Sheila Cockrel, a former city council member. "Where you can walk to the dentist, I think it's going to be very very good for the neighborhood."