NEW YORK,/PRNewswire/ -- Danica Patrick is shining a spotlight on an often overlooked healthcare issue – oral health – as she teams up with Aspen Dental and Oral Health America to launch the Healthy Mouth Movement, a community giving initiative designed to deliver free dental care to thousands of people in need in communities across the U.S., and oral health education to millions more.
"Last year 100 million Americans didn't visit a dentist, and millions more live in communities with little or no access to dental care," said Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Chevrolet SS in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. "This is an issue that affects a lot of hard-working people, including NASCAR fans, who are often living in pain. It's time to do something about it, and that's why I'm proud to partner with Aspen Dental and Oral Health America."
Through the Healthy Mouth Movement, dentists and team members from every Aspen Dental practice in 27 states will devote a day to providing much-needed dental care to those who need it most – free of charge, no questions asked. And to reach communities where care isn't available, the newly-constructed Aspen Dental MouthMobile, a fully-equipped dental office on wheels, will go directly into communities to not only provide free service, but raise awareness.
The Aspen Dental MouthMobile would not have been possible without the generous donations of equipment and supplies from Carestream Dental, Dental EZ, Henry Schein, Tuttnauer, Sultan Healthcare and Image Press, which are valued at nearly $100,000.
"The sad reality is that for many Americans, dentistry has become a luxury and not a priority," said Dr. Clark Downey, Aspen Dental practice owner from Richmond, Indiana. "Every single day I and hundreds of other dentists at more than 400 Aspen Dental locations across the country see patients who are struggling financially and have put off regular dental care. The result is that people are living with infection and pain, and it's impacting their health and quality of life."
Added Dr. Downey, "Aspen Dental has always worked to remove barriers that keep people from getting dental care -- we keep fees low, stay open on evenings and weekends, and welcome emergency patients. But we want to do more, and that's where the Healthy Mouth Movement comes in."
What is the Healthy Mouth Movement?
Beginning in February and continuing throughout 2014, Aspen Dental dentists and teams will volunteer a day of their time, opening their doors to provide free dental care to the community. The Healthy Mouth Movement will begin in Florida and Georgia and move up the East Coast and through the Mid West through the spring and summer months.
While dentists and teams at Aspen Dental have always volunteered their time and talents, both at home and abroad, through organizations like Missions of Mercy and the American Dental Association's Give Kids a Smile program, the Healthy Mouth Movement will be the largest and most far-reaching initiative that they've ever undertaken together.
In the spirit of helping as many people as possible, dentists will focus on treating the most urgent dental need of each patient by providing services such as a filling, extraction, basic cleaning or denture repair. The first priority will be to get participants out of pain, make them aware of what their other dental care needs are, and through Oral Health America, connect them with free or low-cost resources in their community to access continued care.
Education Is Key
According to Oral Health America's 2013 State of Decay report, the oral health of many Americans is suffering, with more than half of the country rated as fair or poor when it comes to minimal standards affecting dental care access for older adults. And so to have the biggest impact, the Healthy Mouth Movement will make oral health education a priority.
"Dental care is the most common unmet health need in the U.S. Yet while the debate about healthcare has dominated the headlines in recent months, there has been very little discussion about oral health," said Beth Truett, president and CEO of Oral Health America. "The Healthy Mouth Movement is a great opportunity for us to continue to not just raise awareness about these important issues, but also to connect people who need dental care with local resources."
To learn more about the Healthy Mouth Movement, visit www.AspenDental.com. For additional information about Oral Health America's "State of Decay" report, visit www.toothwisdom.org.
For broadcast quality, downloadable B-roll on demand, visit: www.vistaworldlink.com/healthymouthmovement (note: case sensitive).