A one-day, all-out effort to address a major community health concern aims to put a smile on the faces of people in need.
The Dental Day of Caring, spearheaded by Family Health Center, will deliver free basic dental care for up to 450 uninsured adults from across Kalamazoo County in a single day. The effort takes place Saturday, March 23, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., at Family Health Center’s Alcott campus, 505 E. Alcott Street. Partners include Family Health Center, United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, and the Kalamazoo chapter of The Links Incorporated.
“Many adults who don’t have dental insurance can’t afford to take care of their teeth, and that poses a big risk to their overall health,” said Denise Crawford, president and chief executive officer of Family Health Center (FHC). “Dental Day of Caring will tackle that need for hundreds of our community’s most vulnerable residents.”
On a typical day, FHC serves about 100 dental patients. Dental Day of Caring aims to more than quadruple that figure.
During the one-day clinic, uninsured adults will receive a dental exam and at least one service, including cleanings, sealants, fillings and extractions. All services are being provided free of charge by volunteers who are fully licensed and certified dental providers. Also assisting are fourth-year dental students and supervisors from the University of Michigan.
Crawford said poor oral health brings lots of problems, with tooth decay, tooth loss, gum disease and related pain just the beginning. Studies show poor oral health can lead to numerous health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, pregnancy complications, kidney disease, dementia and many others. Even more, it can cause people to suffer a social stigma that hurts their self-esteem, their relationships and their ability to find or keep a job.
“Family Health Center focuses on the health needs of the underserved, whoever they are and whatever their circumstances,” said Crawford. “No one, no matter what their situation, should have to suffer from lack of dental care. That’s what makes Dental Day of Caring so important.”
While walk-ins will be served on Dental Day of Caring, patients are urged to pre-register to secure a time to receive care. Anyone can pre-register at an FHC location—117 W. Paterson Street; 1308 N. Burdick St.; or 505 E. Alcott Street.
In addition, Dental Day of Caring needs volunteers to help with check-in, escorting patients, handing out hygiene kits and much more. General volunteers can sign up online at tinyurl.com/dentalgeneralvolunteers2019. There is also a need for additional volunteer dental professionals, who can sign up at tinyurl.com/dentalprosignup2019.
Other information is available by calling 349-2641, extension 230.