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Dental Care

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Welcome to MAHEC Dental Health Center!

Thanks for visiting our webpage. We provide comprehensive general dentistry services closer to home so you can enjoy good oral health where you live, work, and play. We are conveniently located on Hendersonville Road, up the hill from the Doubletree Hotel and TGI Fridays.

We are a Dental Residency and Learner focused practice (along with our smaller site in Columbus, NC). We have post-graduate and pre-graduate learners embedded in our clinics, and, they are closely supervised by our wonderful faculty team.

We are in network with most major dental insurance companies, and also offer a sliding scale discount program for qualifying patients. From routine restorative procedures to cosmetic enhancement to periodontal disease management and dental implants, we are here to meet all of your oral healthcare needs. The dentists in our practice will provide you with comprehensive dental care in a state-of-the-art dental office.

Please note: Due to high demand, we regrettably are not able to accept new patients at this time. Both our Asheville and Columbus locations have an extensive wait list for new patient appointments and we are only able to add new names to our Columbus wait list. Thank you for your interest and we apologize for the inconvenience.

Our services include, but are not limited to:

  • Cleanings and x-rays
  • Cosmetic fillings, crowns, and veneers
  • Custom partial and full dentures
  • Implants
  • Reconstructive full-mouth dentistry
  • Root canals
  • Routine dental extractions
  • Teeth whitening
  • Treatment for periodontal (gum) disease
MAHEC Dental Health Center at Biltmore
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Monday-Thursday: 8am-5pm (closed 12-1pm)
Friday: 8am-3pm (closed 12-1pm)

  • (828) 252-4290 phone
  • (828) 777-8925 after-hours phone
  • (828) 333-5871 fax
map

Ali Bunch, RDH Ali Bunch, RDH
Public Health Registered Dental Hygienist

MAHEC Dental Health Center at Biltmore map
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803
phone (828) 252-4290

My name is Ali and I am a proud Asheville native! I have been a hygienist since 2014 and at MAHEC since 2018. I spent the first portion of my career in private practice and when I made the switch to public health it was quite the change. After working at MAHEC for almost four years, I could never see myself in private practice again. I love our patient population and love working with residents and Chapel Hill students. I feel I have really been able to help people on a whole different level here at MAHEC. Ultimately I would like to transition into higher education to instruct dental hygiene students later in my career. When I am not cleaning teeth, I love river sports, crafts and I enjoy spending time with friends and family, especially my four year old daughter.


Megan Cochran Megan Cochran
Dental Hygienist

MAHEC Dental Health Center at Biltmore map
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803
phone (828) 252-4290

I was born and raised in Asheville and have been a dental hygienist for 16 years. I completed my training at AB Tech and have worked at MAHEC for 15 years. I enjoy getting to work as a team with our dentists in patient care and having the opportunity to work with dental students from UNC. I am very excited for the coming school year to work with the underserved student populations in our new school based oral health program.


Mark Cummins, DMD Mark Cummins, DMD
Dental Faculty

MAHEC Dental Health Center at Biltmore map
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803
phone (828) 252-4290

Undergraduate: University of Kentucky
Dental School: University of Kentucky College of Dentistry
Residency: Dentistry, Wake Forest University School of Medicine / NC Baptist Hospital
Chief Resident: Dentistry, Wake Forest University School of Medicine / NC Baptist Hospital
Past or current faculty appointments: Medical College of Virginia School of Dentistry, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Mountain Area Health Education Center, University of North Carolina Adams School of Dentistry

Dr. Cummins grew up in central Kentucky and has had a rich career in various dental venues. While in college and dental school at the University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), he won numerous awards and then completed a residency in dentistry at Wake Forest University School of Medicine / North Carolina Baptist Hospital (Winston-Salem, NC). While in his final year of residency, he was honored to serve as the chief resident. Following successful completion of the residency, he moved to Newport News, VA and worked as an associate in private practice, while being on staff and holding hospital credentials at Riverside Regional Medical Center. While in Newport News, he was also on the clinical faculty at the Medical College of Virginia’s School of Dentistry in Richmond, VA. Dr. Cummins later returned to Wake Forest University School of Medicine to be on full-time faculty in the dental residency program. He then returned to his home state of Kentucky and opened (from scratch) and ran a solo private practice for fifteen years, near his home town. After retiring from his private practice, Dr. Cummins came to MAHEC to continue his career by sharing what he has learned throughout the years with both dental residents (at MAHEC) and students (from University of North Carolina Adams School of Dentistry). Dr. Cummins also sees patients at MAHEC Dental Health Center. His special interest within comprehensive dental care is crown and bridge dentistry.


Marshal Earnest, DMD Marshal Earnest, DMD
Director, General Dentistry Residency Program

MAHEC Dental Health Center at Biltmore map
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803
phone (828) 252-4290

Dr. Earnest grew up in Mooresville, NC, near Lake Norman. He completed his undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina Wilmington majoring in Biology. He then went on to complete his dental education at LECOM School of Dental Medicine in Bradenton, FL. Following graduation, he completed a general practice residency at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, CT. While in residency, he had the opportunity to treat a wide variety of patients both within the dental and medical setting. Since graduation, he has practiced both in Florida and North Carolina. He is very excited to join MAHEC as full-time faculty for the opportunity to help educate new dentists and to provide dental services to WNC.


Carlos “Eduardo” Gonzalez-Espinoza, DDS, MSc Carlos “Eduardo” Gonzalez-Espinoza, DDS, MSc
Dental Faculty

MAHEC Dental Health Center at Biltmore map
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803
phone (828) 252-4290

Dr. Gonzalez-Espinoza was born and raised in San Salvador, El Salvador, Central America. He attended dental school at Universidad Evangelica de El Salvador. He completed an International program in Prosthodontics at New York University, NY, where he discovered the topic of his passion: implant dentistry. He completed a Master’s in Science in Periodontology program in Munster, Germany, in 2017.

In 2011, he joined the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco, CA, as an Assistant Professor, where he became Course Director for Preclinical Implant Dentistry and a Clinical Faculty member of both the surgical and restorative teams for implant services working in the Preventative and Restorative Departments of Oral Surgery, a position he held for 12 years until he decided to join MAHEC.

He is a Fellow of the ITI (International Team for Implantology) and is passionate about mentoring others to advance in the implant field.


Ken Hornowski, DDS Ken Hornowski, DDS
Dental Community Faculty

MAHEC Dental Health Center at Biltmore map
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803
phone (828) 252-4290

Undergraduate: University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Dental School: UNC Adams School of Dentistry - Chapel Hill

Dr. Ken Hornowski grew up in Asheville, received his DDS in Chapel Hill in 1979, and returned to Asheville where he practiced for more than twenty years. He then became an Adjunct Professor in the AEGD Residency program at the UNC School of Dentistry in Chapel Hill where he taught for the next fifteen years. Once his daughters started having grandchildren he returned to Asheville full time. Dr. Hornowski retired for a couple of years and then was excited to have the opportunity to once again teach residents in the outstanding Dental MAHEC Residency. He has lectured on Practice Management issues in the US and at the Southern European Dental Conference in Lodz, Poland. Dr. Hornowski truly enjoys teaching residents and fourth year UNC Scholars as they know it is time to understand how to provide excellent and enriching treatment for their patients.


Katherine Jowers, DDS Katherine Jowers, DDS
Chair, Department of Dentistry and Oral Health

MAHEC Dental Health Center at Biltmore map
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803
phone (828) 252-4290

After graduating with honors from the University of North Carolina Adams School of Dentistry, and completing her residency and fellowship, Dr. Jowers came to Western North Carolina to help develop a hospital-based oral health program for Mission Hospitals. The resulting program successfully advocated for positive change and provided care to underserved people for two decades, and Dr. Jowers presented that program at the Surgeon General’s Conference in Washington, DC. She then taught with East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine where she served as Assistant Director for one of the learning centers until she was recruited to UNC at MAHEC.

Dr. Jowers' interests include: teaching new doctors and providers to be compassionate and effective; providing the public with better education in oral health and wellness; creating new ways to reach people with information, understanding and care; and providing operating-room oral rehabilitation for people who cannot tolerate adequate outpatient dental care.


Jo Persons, RDH Jo Persons, RDH
Dental Hygienist

MAHEC Dental Health Center at Biltmore map
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803
phone (828) 252-4290

Jo has been a hygienist since graduating from AB Tech in 2013. She moved to Montana and practiced out west until returning to both the area and the workforce in 2021, after being home with her two children for four years. Jo originally moved to Asheville in 2001 to attend Warren Wilson College, and completed her bachelor’s degree in Spanish in 2006 at UNCA after transferring schools. As a hygienist who has almost exclusively worked in public health, Jo enjoys the autonomy and freedom that comes with being a provider at MAHEC. This is her first time working in an educational setting in dentistry, though she did work as a teacher for ten years before going to hygiene school. Outside of work, Jo enjoys spending time with her friends and family being outside and enjoying all that Asheville has to offer.


Jessica Planer, DDS Jessica Planer, DDS
Dental Community Faculty

MAHEC Dental Health Center at Biltmore map
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803
phone (828) 252-4290

I am a North Carolinian through and through! I was born and raised in Raleigh and attended college and dental school at UNC-Chapel Hill. I was fortunate enough to do my General Practice Residency at MAHEC in 2011-2012….and to get married to my husband Chris who is also a dentist and MAHEC graduate. We moved away for a few years after residency but missed the mountains and soon returned to western North Carolina to stay. I truly enjoy all aspects of general dentistry and my heart is in helping people and treating patients like family. My work in private practice, dental education, and public health is a unique blend and has made me a better dentist, educator, and person. I am very active in continuing education and hold leadership positions in the Buncombe County Dental Society and the North Carolina Academy of General Dentistry. When I am not working I am soaking up quality time with our young daughter, riding my Peloton bike, or out walking our Labradoodle Flossy who we spoil completely rotten.


Richard Shields, DDS Richard Shields, DDS
Dental Community Faculty

MAHEC Dental Health Center at Biltmore map
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803
phone (828) 252-4290

Undergraduate: Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, MI
Dental School: University of Michigan

Dr. Shields joined MAHEC Dental Residency Faculty in 2018 following 32 years of general practice in Southwestern Michigan.


Taylor Townsend, DDS Taylor Townsend, DDS
Director, Department of Dentistry and Oral Health

MAHEC Dental Health Center at Biltmore map
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803
phone (828) 252-4290

Hello and welcome! The Department of Dentistry here at MAHEC is a wonderful team of people providing not only great care but an exceptional educational experience. I consider it an honor and privilege to serve alongside this group.

I grew up in Georgia and am humbled to be a third generation Dentist in our family. Dentistry has certainly changed through the years! I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Furman University before pursuing a master’s degree in Biochemistry from Colorado State University. From there, I completed my dental training at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry, receiving a DDS degree. Depending on professional goals and program specifics, I tend to highly advocate for post-graduate Dental residency training. So, I completed a two-year General Practice Residency at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. After residency, I established and grew an independent, solo dental practice in the mountains of Western North Carolina. I maintained this practice for the next 14 years or so all the while continuing to serve as faculty in the Department of Dentistry at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Desiring to increase my teaching activity, I then joined the full-time faculty in the Department of Dentistry at MAHEC and have found that this decision has proven to be a highly rewarding one, mixing continued patient care and a very active balance of teaching.

Professionally, my interests are in comprehensive treatment planning including those of medically complex patients, surgery, and anesthesia. I also have a passion for practice management such that the dental team can be the most efficient and productive in allowing our patients access to the full breadth of care we can provide. Helping learners find and grow in what they are passionate about in dentistry definitely increases my energy!


Norman Zarr, DDS Norman Zarr, DDS
Dental Community Faculty

MAHEC Dental Health Center at Biltmore map
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803
phone (828) 252-4290

Norman Zarr moved with his family to Miami, Florida from Middletown, NY when he was two years old and lived there through his college years at the University of Miami in Coral Gables. He attended the University of Tennessee Dental School in Memphis and when on to work at the Virginia Health Department for more than two years. Upon leaving the Health Department he returned to Miami and started a dental practice in Hialeah where he worked for over 35 years. Dr. Zarr then took over another dental practice in Coral Gables, Fl, retiring from practicing general dentistry after four more years.

After trying retirement, he found his way back into the profession as an Adjunct Professor at the Nova Southeastern University School of Dental Medicine where he taught for a number of years. From that position, Norm then accepted another adjunct professorship at the Midwestern School of Dental Medicine in Glendale, AZ where he worked and taught for another three years.

Norm and his wife then moved to Asheville, the location they had previously chosen for their retirement years. One last unsuccessful attempt at retirement, and then Norm found his way to MAHEC where he has enjoyed being part of the dedicated and talented team of professionals. Working with the Residents and the 4th year UNC scholars has been a significantly rewarding part of his life, and Norm feels sincerely fortunate to be a part of the MAHEC community.

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