April 2016
Volume 7, Issue 4

Making a Difference

This month we highlight just four of the many stories of those in this industry who dedicate their time, resources, and generosity to help people in need. Whether giving back to the local community, restoring the smiles of friends and friends of friends, providing access to care for the economically disadvantaged, or raising money for a good cause, each of these stories exemplifies the philanthropic heart of the dental industry.

I witnessed firsthand the incredible humanitarian dedication of the dental industry when I attended a Mission of Mercy two-day event several years ago. Like most, I had read about and seen TV reports spotlighting missions like this throughout the country. However, the reality on both sides of the event took me aback. On the organizational side were the semi-trucks rolling into the small community loaded with equipment, materials, and operatory chairs that volunteers unloaded, set up in long rows, and tested the day before the event, each one readied for the volunteer dental professional the next day. Laboratory personnel also were arriving and unloading their supplies and equipment, setting up a section of the stadium for fabricating temporaries, flippers, partial dentures, and other restorative products.

Then, early the next morning, there was the long, long line of patients, many of whom had driven for hours from across the state and even from neighboring states, lining up outside the stadium hours before dawn hoping to receive dental treatment. When the doors opened that first morning, patients streamed into the screening area to be interviewed and examined before entering the stadium, where they were directed to an operatory set up to deal with their most immediate needs, from tooth extraction and endodontic treatment to tooth cleaning, treatment for caries, and partial dentures. Volunteer dentists, dental assistants, hygienists, nurses, laboratory personnel, and laypersons worked tirelessly to help restore the dental health of the hundreds of patients treated that day until the doors closed at 6 PM, and then they spent hours readying the facility for the next morning, when the scene would be repeated.

Acts of kindness like this take place every year here on these shores and abroad, bringing free dental care and assistance to those in need. From the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Foundation’s Give Back a Smile campaign to assist survivors of domestic abuse and the National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped to The National Children’s Oral Health Foundation as well as the donation of hundreds of thousands of dollars by major manufacturers for improving the dental health of others, the dental community has many stories to tell of its magnanimous efforts to making a difference in patients’ lives.

If you, or you and your team of technicians, are involved in a charitable cause for your community, for a dental-related initiative here or abroad, or support a particular cause, we would like to hear from you and tell your story in this same issue next year.

Pam Johnson

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