Portland dentist volunteers

April 1, 2011
Local residents to benefit.

PORTLAND, Oregon--Dr. Todd L. Beck, DMD, of Mt. Tabor Dental doesn’t spend his Saturdays the way most Portlanders do.

To read about volunteers, go to volunteers.

While local residents enjoy the outdoors or time with family, Dr. Beck sits in the back of a mobile dental office, and provides free dental care to those in Portland who need it.

For more than 10 years, Dr. Beck, an associate professor at Oregon Health Sciences University, has volunteered his services with Medical Teams International. Based in Portland, Medical Teams International is a global health organization serving those in poverty in more than 70 countries. The reach of the organization's mobile dental clinics include:

* 11 mobile dental clinic vehicles
* 155,00 patients seen since 1989
* Has served 17,000 patients in last year
* Partnered with 200 agencies
* Nearly $6.7 million in services provided last year

“My main goal when I volunteer is to clear up infections and get people out of pain,” explained Dr. Beck. “Most of the patients we see are low income or homeless citizens, for whom most dental services are cost-prohibitive. Not being able to afford dental care should not be a barrier when someone is in pain.”

Dr. Beck remembers one patient in particular.

“While volunteering one Saturday, there was a young lady who came to us for help," he said.

"She was trying to get a job, but her teeth were badly decayed and broken down and she was in constant pain from the infections. Here was a person who was doing her best to make a better life for herself and her children, and bad teeth were standing in her way. I was able to remove the infected teeth, and we found her a low cost denturist that was able to make her a set of dentures. I saw her again about a year later, and she was a new person. I feel so grateful to have been part of her transformation.”

For the past year, Dr. Beck has expanded his reach with Medical Teams International by including his OHSU dental students in his volunteer work. As part of an off-campus preceptorship program, three rotating spots in the mobile dental clinic are filled by Dr. Beck’s students.

The students are exposed to real-life situations and gain an early appreciation for offering their dental services to those in need. The program is popular with students and Dr. Beck has created a waiting list for it.

Said Dr. Beck, “There is a great need in Portland for free dental care. I am honored to be able to work with Medical Teams International as a volunteer. This is my way of giving back to my fellow Portlanders.”

More information about Medical Teams International can be found at www.medicalteams.org.

To read more about this topic, go to community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/.