Patients numbering into the thousands—many of whom camped out for days before the doors opened—waited in line for a chance to receive treatment at the annual Central Arizona Mission of Mercy event. For more, click here
California: FULLERTON—During the recession, Dr. Kimberly Nguyen (Beautiful Smile Dental) noticed her patients losing insurance coverage and being unable to afford dental care. To help, in 2009 she announced a dental event to provide free cleanings, fillings and extractions to anyone who needed care. Patients showed up at 4:30 a.m. and lined up across two blocks. That dental day has grown into an annual full-service health fair that involves Rotary International, St. Jude’s Hospital, Ketchum Optometry and Lestonnac Free Clinic. Today, Nguyen aims to increase patients’ access to care on an even greater scale. As a consultant for a cloud practice management software called Asprodental, she hopes to see the company help with free dental events such as the one she founded and increase efficiency in private practices.
Arizona: MESA—Dr. Mai-Ly Duong (Sundance Dental Care, Phoenix), assistant professor at A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health, organized the university’s annual event, Day for Special Smiles. This particular patient would not let anyone touch him, and refused to sit in the dental chair. Duong sang “You Are My Sunshine” to him, and he let her clean his teeth while he was standing up.
Under Duong’s leadership, 178 student and faculty volunteers provided free dental services to 61 adults with special needs, who would not otherwise have access to care. She has led the event for six consecutive years, coordinating service for more than 500 patients. This year, the university provided about $22,000 in dental screenings and treatment.
Utah: BOUNTIFUL—Each month, Dr. David Stubbs and his team at Stubbs Dental donate all proceeds from new-patient appointments to a deserving member or organization within their local community. In 2018, they donated more than $28,000. Stubbs Dental has donated to local food pantries, shelters and those who suffer from life-threatening illnesses and accidental injuries.
New York: KIRKWOOD—This September, Progressive Dental will participate in the 24th annual Doctors with a Heart Day. Each year, Dr. Sonny Spera and his staff dedicate one day in its five offices to providing urgent dental care to those who would not otherwise be able to afford it. Since 1995, Progressive Dental has treated more than 5,905 patients during this annual event, providing more than $1,102,983 in services to residents of the Southern Tier of New York and Northeastern Pennsylvania. Looking forward to the annual event, Spera takes pride in what his staff has accomplished. “I’m proud of all the people that have joined in and helped us with their energy, wisdom and passion. It’s amazing what can be done if everyone does just a little,” he said.
New York: KINGSTON—In 2010, Dr. Thomas Cingel (Cingel Dental) emailed a band he had seen to ask if they’d play a local show in exchange for dental work. He didn’t hear back from them, but his proposal did make its way through the grapevine and back to other Kingston locals with connections in the art and music worlds. Together, with many community members, Cingel’s original idea grew into the O+ (“O Positive”) Festival, an annual three-day festival where artists and musicians can exchange art and performances for health care. Hundreds of artists and musicians have received dentistry, primary care, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, counseling and more. Cingel’s office has consistently been the most popular stop for participants, with Cingel having volunteered hundreds of hours to treat them. Kingston has benefited immensely from O+, as evidenced by dozens of large-scale murals gracing buildings, bustling city streets and new community members.
Jamaica: Dr. Catalina Carrillo (Great Expressions Dental Centers, Miami), along with senior practice administrator Rosalba Colls and expanded dental assistant Jennifer Hoo, recently offered dental care services to students at Dinthill Technical High School and Guy’s Hill High School in Linstead, a rural Jamaican city in St. Catherine. Over the course of two days, they provided free dental services to more than 1,300 students. This opportunity was put on by the Dinthill Technical Past Students’ Association’s Florida alumni chapter.
Dominican Republic: n March 2018, Dr. Ashkan Alizadeh (Marconi Dental Group, Carmichael, California) and his team performed more than 400 procedures and treatments for small villages of sugar plantation workers in the vicinity of La Romana, Dominican Republic. The dental team worked from a donated RV fitted out as a mobile clinic. Two dental chairs provided space for complicated procedures, while a lawn chair was recruited into service to serve other people with simpler needs. Mouths were examined and difficult cases were referred to the Good Samaritan dental clinic for later in the mission trip. Many were helped immediately with cleanings, fluoride treatments, fillings where possible, and a large number of extractions to relieve toothache and remove teeth damaged or diseased beyond repair.
Dr. Peter Vanicek and his wife, Dr. Liliane Brantes, sold their Denver-based practice in 2012. Vanicek now leads eight field clinics a year through the nonprofit Global Dental Relief (GDR). In addition to Guatemala, GDR works in India, Nepal, Cambodia and Kenya. “Having run a for-profit dental office for 30 years, it is a complete switch to work in a charity. In my practice I had to manage staff and operating costs, whereas now I get to just go help people,” Vanicek said. (Continued on next slide). Above, Vanicek and Brantes pictured with the Nepali children they treated in GDR’s field clinic in Kathmandu.
Since 2011, Vanicek has led 30 clinics with GDR. His passion for this work is fortified with each child who receives care in one of his clinics. “When it comes down to it, it’s not the procedures we are doing, it’s the smiles we share, it’s the interactions and connections, the humanity we share,” he says. “Not the number of fillings we place.” Above, Vanicek working in a GDR field clinic in the Mayan Highlands of Guatemala.