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Less fortunate benefit from free dental services

Sept. 18, 2013
DGPA has upcoming days of help in member dental offices

Earlier this year, the American Dental Association confirmed through research a disturbing dental divide in the United States — almost half of all lower income Americans did not visit a dentistin the last year or more, and a little over a third admit to living with an untreated cavity.

The Dental Group Practice Association(DGPA) and member company Pacific Dental Services® (PDS) and its supported dentists are doing something about that grim statistic. They recently completed record-breaking, cross-country work, providing donated dental services to those in need of dental care, and in early October they’ll be providing even more philanthropic services in more locations.

Smile Generation's Third Annual Serve Day, sponsored by PDS, facilitated 240 dental offices to donate more than $2.4 million in free dentistry to 1,600 Americans in 11 states this year, including California, Nevada, and Oregon.

“Having access to dental care is critical for a patient’s overall health,” said Steve Thorne, founder, president, and CEO of PDS. “By opening up their PDS-supported practices to help those who may not otherwise have access to dental care, the dentists are confirming their commitment to their community members and the individual’s oral health.”

During these donated dental care visits, community partners – including non-profits, health advocacy groups, youth centers, religious organizations, and local governments – help identify children and adults that could benefit from these pro-bono efforts. The free treatments range from basic services such as cleanings and exams, to extractions and restorations.

"We are committed to our social mission at DGPA, which is to give back by helping dentists extend their services to those who desperately need their care, within the community and across the globe," said Steve Bilt, DGPA president.

“Great organizations should provide value to the community,” said Dr. Eric E. Ellis of Every Kid’s Dentist dental office, and Diplomat of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. “I am proud that my staff and I, along with hundreds of other offices, were able to volunteer our time to give back to those in need.”

"I am so grateful to see dental offices like Pleasant Grove Dental Group and Orthodontics partnering with community organizations like mine to identify this need in our neighborhood and donate their professional services," said Kayla Dreher, client services and volunteer coordinator of Roseville Home Start in Roseville, Calif.

Collectively, DGPA members offer millions of dollars in free care annually to patients nationwide and abroad, through activities ranging from mobile dental clinics to free in-office weekend visits.

Heartland Dental supports free care to those in need as part of its Free Dentistry Day program. So far, Heartland dentists have provided more than $1 million in pro bono dentistry. Upcoming community efforts include the following Free Dentistry Days:

Five offices will be participating in Champaign, Ill. on Oct. 4 at two area locations. They are Champaign Dental Group, Family Dental Care of Champaign, Creative Smiles Dental Care, Dentistry by Design, and Hessel Park Family Dentistry. They will provide patients with their choice of a cleaning, filling, or extraction. Estimates are for at least 110 people to visit each location.

On the same day, Village Crest Family Dental will provide free services in Smyrna, Tenn. Members of Village Crest Family Dental Care will welcome people to their office for their choice of an extraction or cleainnig.

For more information, visit thedgpa.org.