Health Volunteers Overseas honors N.C. oral surgeon


Dr. Frost 


Durham, N.C.—
For nearly three decades, Dr. David E. Frost has donated his time, talents and energy to help improve the oral health of people in need worldwide, but his most memorable experiences are those that reach one person at a time.

Dr. Frost, an oral surgeon in Durham, N.C., received a 2014 Health Volunteers Overseas Golden Apple Award for his “extraordinary educational contributions” as an international volunteer, educator and administrator since 1987.

“When I was volunteering with Health Volunteers Overseas in Nepal with Dr. Rick Scott, another great HVO volunteer, we saw Nina Lama, a 20-year-old girl in Katmandu, Nepal (but from the Everest region of Nepal) with an unrepaired cleft lip and palate. This doesn’t exist in the U.S. I had never seen an adult with a cleft lip that was unrepaired. We treated her in the process of teaching the Nepalese surgeon basics of cleft care. When she left two weeks later she was going back to her village, high in the Himalayan Mountains. She needed other long term care, but now she was acceptable in her village. Basanta, the local surgeon, said, ‘David, she won’t be back, she can get married and have a family now.’ I realized that we were changing faces and lives as we taught and served with HVO.”

Dr. Frost has taught and provided care through HVO programs in Nepal, Vietnam, India and Peru and has also made other mission trips to Cuba and Chile.

He is the chair of the ADA Committee on International Programs and Development and the ADA International Development Subcommittee. He served on the HVO Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Steering Committee. For 12 years served on the HVO board of directors, and was chair for six. He was part of the team that launched the HVO Oral Health Initiative, sponsored by the ADA and the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.

“Many people have provided much for me to be able to do what I have gotten to do with HVO—family, friends, mentors, many,” said Dr. Frost. “My wife and I have always felt that we could and should help others since we were so fortunate. My mentors in oral and maxillofacial surgery instilled that in me. I always think of myself as a teacher and mentor and HVO and international work make that possible.

“Seeing the smile on the face of a patient after a procedure or feeling the excitement in a student or young surgeon when he or she first understands how to do something or when or why something is done for a patient is very rewarding,” he added. “Being a part of that, where there is so much need has been good for my soul. I believe surgery is a calling and helping the least fortunate to care or to education so they can provide care is a benefit to all. I am honored to receive the Golden Apple from HVO.”

The ADA and the AAOMS sponsor HVO’s dental education programs. The ADA International Development Subcommittee and the ADA Division of Global Affairs oversee the programs.

Currently, HVO has dentistry programs in Cambodia, Kenya, Laos, Nicaragua, Rwanda, St. Lucia and Tanzania. Volunteers must be members of the American Dental Association or the Canadian Dental Association with a current license.

To learn more about HVO dental education activities, visit hvousa.org. To learn about other international volunteer opportunities, contact the ADA Division of Global Affairs at 1-312.440.2726, international@ada.org or visit the ADA International Volunteer Webpage internationalvolunteer.ada.org.

Montana sealant program connects dentists, families

 image of first graders at Elrod School
Smiles at school: First-graders at Elrod School in Kalispell, Mont., practice their brushing skills and clean their teeth April 15 before their Sealants for Smiles! screening. Photo by Peggy Newman

Helena, Mont.—Thousands of kids and their families throughout Montana have a good reason to smile, thanks to an innovative prevention-focused program launched by the Montana Dental Association in 2012.

Sealants for Smiles! is Montana’s school-based sealant program through which volunteer dentists, hygienists, assistants and community members provide at no cost to families dental sealants and fluoride varnish treatments to low-income children in schools. Currently, 87 dental professionals volunteer in 77 schools in their own communities statewide.

“We launched this program when the ADA was developing its Action for Dental Health movement, and we think that it fits in with its action plan by emphasizing disease prevention and providing care now to those with untreated disease,” said Dr. Christopher Hirt, MDA president and a general dentist in Billings, Montana. “Montana has a very spread-out population and lots of rural areas where children are in need of dental care. And we also have lots of dentists who are willing to volunteer. What we wanted to do with this program was connect them.”

Placing sealants is only one aspect of the comprehensive prevention program, said Dr. Jane Gillette, a Bozeman, Montana, dentist and researcher. Dr. Gillette is Sealants For Smiles! program director and vice chair of the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations. “We also assist qualified uninsured families in applying for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Filling out the paperwork to do this can be an onerous task for a family. The application is very complex, but we help them gather the information they need in order to apply and then spend time with the families helping them fill it out.

“Sealants for Smiles! also coordinates follow-up care for children with urgent treatment needs,” Dr. Gillette added. “If they have a dentist of record, we coordinate care back with their dentist. Because our program uses volunteer, local hometown dentists, children with urgent needs but without a dental home are most commonly seen by the attending Sealants for Smiles! volunteer dentist that very day in their office or at the latest the next day.”

Dr. Hirt said the program has grown more quickly than organizers ever anticipated, and the number of volunteers surpassed all of their expectations.

“It’s so much fun for the dentists and team members who participate,” said Dr. Hirt. “The volunteers are very enthusiastic and they are really supporting the program. Because of the support the program receives, the time commitment for volunteers is not huge and we are able to use our skills to help kids in our communities. It’s a really great feeling to know we can make a difference.”

 image of Sealants for Smiles! program representatives
Award: Beth Truett, president and CEO, Oral Health America (holding microphone), presents a grant to Sealants For Smiles! program representatives May 2 at the Montana Dental Association Annual Meeting in Missoula. Also pictured, from left, are Dr. Christopher Hirt, Montana Dental Association president; Dr. Mike Veseth, MDA immediate past president; Dr. Jane Gillette, program director and vice chair, ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations; and Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont.

Last month, Sealants for Smiles! received a grant from the Oral Health America Smiles Across America program and it also receives generous funding from the Foundation for Healthy Montanans, the foundation of Blue Cross Blue Shield. This funding has enabled the MDA to hire a full-time program coordinator and a part-time assistant who handle all the communications with school partners and local organizations that participate, enabling volunteer dentists to concentrate on providing care.

“It is a tribute to the Montana Dental Association that diverse partners are working together to combat the No. 1 chronic disease of children,” said Beth Truett, president and CEO of Oral Health America. “Sealants for Smiles! stood out among the 70 proposals OHA received because Dr. Gillette illustrated the passion that the local dental and health care community have for bringing care and hope to 8,500 children, many who live in frontier communities.”

See more on Sealants for Smiles! at the MDA’s Montana Healthy Smiles website, montanahealthysmiles.com or follow @MTDentists on Twitter.

Coalition efforts result in vote to continue fluoridation

Photo of Dr. Vince Mack
Dr. Vince Mack
Photo of Dr. Marty Makowski
Dr. Marty Makowski

Traverse City, Mich.—With only a few weeks to organize a campaign to convince its city commissioners of the value of continuing to fluoridate Traverse City’s water, a broad-based coalition sprung into action.

Dentists and other health professionals, the state and local dental societies, the state oral health coalition and others worked together and were able to commission a survey, contact commissioners in support of fluoridation, hold a press conference, run an op-ed in the local newspaper and speak at the city commissioners’ meeting on the day of the vote.

The city commissioners announced in early April in the local newspaper that they would be considering stopping fluoridation as a cost-cutting measure. On June 16, commissioners voted 5-1 to continue funding water fluoridation.

“With help from the Michigan Dental Association, the coalition set up a work group and got ready to go to battle,” said Dr. Marty Makowski, MDA president. Dr. Makowski is a pediatric dentist in Clinton Township, Michigan. “The campaign was very well organized. We know that we can have all the facts, but the way they are organized is the key to success.”

In May, nearby Boyne City’s city commissioners voted 3-2 to discontinue fluoridating its water supply. About 60 miles northeast of Traverse City, Boyne City had been fluoridating for more than 40 years before the vote.

“We learned from Boyne City that we can’t take anything for granted,” said Karlene Ketola, executive director of the Michigan Oral Health Coalition. “We were so surprised about the Boyne City decision. There’s no such thing as a slam-dunk anymore. You have to be ready for challenges.”

The MOHC quickly commissioned a survey of 300 Traverse City residents that included people from each commission district. A marketing and public opinion research company constructed the survey and was able to complete it in three days.

“We thought a survey would be a great way to reach people—to take the pulse of what locals were really thinking,” Ms. Ketola said. “The antifluoridation group Fluoride Free Traverse City had a Facebook page so we wondered what residents were thinking about fluoridation. If you search Facebook, you can see that many communities have these antifluoridation groups. It’s amazing.”

Survey results showed that nearly 60 percent of residents support community water fluoridation. Only 19 percent of respondents supported the initiative to stop fluoridating. Most respondents also said they said they trust the ADA’s stance on fluoridation (65 percent) and more than half said they trust the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s views on fluoridation (53 percent).

“Last year Traverse City upgraded its fluoridation system, yet the commissioners were going to consider stopping fluoridation to save a fraction of what was spent on the new system. It didn’t add up,” said Dr. Vince Mack, an MDA trustee and general dentist in Traverse City. “All of the coalition partners really worked together to organize the press conference, submit the op-ed to the local newspaper and to reach out to commissioners to advocate for fluoridation. We had 20 in the local dental society come to the meeting to speak as well as other coalition members. It was organized so we all addressed different issues, and in the end common sense prevailed.”

Retired dentist still treks in Nepal to volunteer


Nepal outreach: Local residents in Ilam, Nepal, greet Dr. Dave McMorine and the medical/dental volunteer team in 2012. Volunteers provided medical and dental exams and treatments in the local school pictured behind the group.

Portland, Ore.—Dr. David McMorine, a retired dentist in Portland and a seasoned traveler, has explored more than 50 countries and provided volunteer dental care in a half dozen remote areas worldwide.

In 1994, he responded to a call for volunteers in Nepal that he saw in the ADA News.

“I am not a mountain man, but when I saw the pitch I thought, ‘I should go,'” Dr. McMorine said. “There were seven doctors walking for four days going over mountain passes of 13,000- and 14,000-foot elevations. The experience was amazing. In six days we treated almost 900 people on that trek.”

Since then he has made many trips to Nepal. He has raised thousands of dollars to support his trips with generous donations of equipment and supplies—from friends, foundations and dental supply companies. Donors have provided sealant materials and supplies, dental chairs, a generator and a compressor for a hospital dental clinic. He has received generous support from organizations like Newberg, Oregon-based A-dec and Rotary International.

Amid the world’s highest mountain peaks, the people of Nepal today have a per capita income equivalent to about $600 U.S. dollars a year. When Dr. McMorine started volunteering there, it was more like $180. The need, he said, is great.

“If it doesn’t rain, people can starve to death because they can’t grow food.”

Dr. McMorine works with Himalayan HealthCare, a charitable organization with a mission “to create sustainable development programs in the remote areas of Nepal that will improve the quality of life for its people.”

He has helped train local dental care providers to place sealants in children to prevent caries.

“Volunteers need to take plenty of toothbrushes, sealant materials and supplies on the mission treks,” Dr. McMorine said. “Then they can teach the local dental health care providers apply them.”

At age 73, Dr. McMorine has been retired from practice for 16 years, but looks forward to every volunteer trip he makes. “I love traveling,” he said. “The cultural differences are amazing. That really sucked me in. But just traveling isn’t good enough. I am happy to be able to make a difference. I can hardly wait to go again.”

Dr. McMorine wants to share the benefit of his experiences and sealant technique to help other international volunteers.

For example, drying teeth before applying sealants can be a challenge in remote areas like Nepal. “Drying teeth was a pain. I was using a small bulb syringe and it was slow going,” he said. “So on a trip in 2012, I took several air mattress foot pumps to dry teeth. That worked so much better than small bulb syringes.”

He brings a voltage regulator because of the irregular electrical supply in the field and a surge protector to recharge the LED light curing units, headlamps and flashlights.

His sealant placement technique was featured in the January issue of the Oregon Dental Association’s Membership Matters magazine available online at oregondental.org.

“The method is also easy to teach to local providers,” he added. “Be sure to bring some high quality extracted teeth to teach the local dental health care providers how to place sealants.”

See more about Himalayan HealthCare and upcoming medical-dental treks at himalayan-healthcare.org.

To learn more about volunteering internationally and to find a volunteer opportunity right for you, visit the ADA International Volunteer web page.

New skills add value for patients, profitability for practice

Photo of Dr. Thompson

Dr. Thompson

Saint Rose, La.—Since taking a hands-on cadaver course in crown lengthening at the ADA’s annual meeting in 2013, Dr. Cleopatra Thompson is able to offer her patients a new treatment option — saving her patients time and money and adding profitability to her practice.

“The hands-on crown lengthening cadaver course appealed to me because my colleagues told me having the ability to perform crown lengthening procedures in my office would be a great benefit to my patients. They also said the procedure was fairly easy to perform,” said Dr. Thompson. “This course has allowed me to more effectively treatment plan restorative options on teeth whose clinical crowns have been significantly compromised due to decay or trauma from occlusion.”

The new procedure offers her patients more convenience, she said.

“Now I can treatment plan the procedure, I can immediately discuss the cost and I can perform the procedure in my office.”

Dr. Thompson’s practice is in Saint Rose, Louisiana, a city 20 miles west of New Orleans on the Mississippi River. A 2001 graduate of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry, she said last year’s ADA annual meeting in New Orleans was the first she had attended. Based on her experience, she is hoping to attend ADA 2014—America’s Dental Meeting Oct. 9-14 in San Antonio, if she is able to balance her practice obligations and her latest life milestone—becoming a new mom. Her son, Evan, was born May 7.

Photo of Dr. Thompson learning from Dr. Suzuki in a lab setting

Learning new skills: Dr. Cleopatra Thompson of Saint Rose, La., listens to presenter Dr. Jon Suzuki during the 2013 hands-on cadaver course, Crown Lengthening Workshop at the Louisiana State University Health Science Center in New Orleans.

“The cadaver course last year was absolutely phenomenal,”
Dr. Thompson said. “I truly enjoyed completing the procedure on a cadaver because it directly simulated what I would ultimately complete in the oral cavity of a patient. I especially enjoyed the intimate class size. It was not too large which allowed me to have direct communication with the instructors. Having never completed a crown lengthening procedure before, I was able to attempt the procedure independently after receiving directions from the course instructors.”

Dr. Thompson said she plans to take another cadaver course in the future.

“I feel more confident in course settings that are hands on,” she said. “It gives me the opportunity to attempt the procedure and ask as many questions as possible. When I return to my practice, I feel that I have already physically completed the procedure and now I simply have to integrate it into my practice.”

Dr. Thompson said she truly enjoyed attending her first ADA annual meeting last year, and in addition to taking a variety of continuing education courses, she was excited to learn that the ADA, the Louisiana Dental Association and the New Orleans Dental Association hosted a national Mission of Mercy charitable dental clinic.

“I was not able to participate in the MOM in New Orleans because I registered too late and all of the positions were filled. I recommend that anyone who wants to participate in the Mission of Mercy should register early. I am hoping to participate in that very fulfilling experience this year.”

The second ADA Mission of Mercy is set for Oct. 12 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. For more details or to volunteer for the ADA Mission of Mercy, visit ADA.org/MOM. Regulations and temporary licensing information are available on this page. For more information on donors supporting the ADA Mission of Mercy, see the related story.

The ADA’s innovative continuing education programs and charitable MOM program netted E.X.C.I.T.E. Awards at the ExpoNext Conference June 25 in Baltimore (See story.)

For a list of hands-on cadaver courses and hundreds of other CE courses planned for ADA 2014 — America’s Dental Meeting, visit ADA.org/meeting.

Kennebunk area dentists help derail fluoridation challenge

fluoridation logo

Kennebunk, Maine — Thanks in part to quick action by local dentists, community water fluoridation will not be on the ballot in November for voters who live in the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Wells Water District.

One of Maine’s largest water districts, it serves the towns of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Wells, Ogunquit, Arundel and portions of Biddeford and York. The water system serves the region with a combined population of more than 70,000 people in the summer months and nearly 30,000 the rest of the year.

Voters in the seven communities voted to fluoridate in November 2002 and fluoridation began in early 2003.

Dr. Jim Trentalange, a general dentist in Arundel, and his wife were interested in an action about the local skate park coming before the Kennebunk board during its meeting July 8 and happened to notice that a discussion on fluoridation was also on the agenda. They alerted Dr. Lisa Howard and her husband Dr. Joe Kenneally about the agenda item.

Dr. Howard, an orthodontist in Scarborough, a past Maine Dental Association president and past chair of the ADA National Fluoridation Advisory Committee and Dr. Kenneally, a general dentist in Biddeford, past ADA vice president and past MDA president, had to act quickly.

“We were having dinner, and the meeting was going to start in a half hour,” said Dr. Howard. “So we quickly got some information together and met Dr. Trentalange at the meeting.”

Dr. Howard said all three of them spoke before the board, but the selectmen decided that the issue was complicated and they wanted to seek public input on the matter. They set a town meeting for July 22.

To stop fluoridating, at least four of the towns served by the water district would have had to vote to put the question on the November ballot by Aug. 5 — 90 days before the gubernatorial election. The measure can only be voted on during a presidential or a gubernatorial election.

Local dentists responded by organizing dentists to attend each of the town board meetings armed with information to share with selectmen and others at the meetings, Dr. Howard said. By the next week, when it was clear that there would not be a majority of the towns in favor of putting the issue on the ballot, Kennebunk cancelled its town hall meeting and by the end of the month the citizen who had requested the petition withdrew her request.

Dentists involved in the effort also included Drs. Karen Hall, Nii Norte Lokko, Bryan Redusky, Lee Richheimer and Dean Tourigney.

“We are now putting a sentinel system into place to monitor what’s happening at the community level,” Dr. Howard said. “This will enable us to have dentists, physicians, nurses, teachers and other advocates armed with the facts to present to local governments and to educate the public when needed.”

Sen. Durbin meets with ADA, state and local representatives for a round-table discussion

Image of Senator Durbin and Dr. Lisa Kearney
Dental clinic tour: Sen. Dick Durbin, left, asks Dr. Lisa Kearney, dental director, right, a question during his tour of Erie Family Health Center’s Evanston, Illinois, dental clinic.

Evanston, Ill. — From the Affordable Care Act and community water fluoridation to dental student debt and Mission of Mercy events, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin asked experts about a wide range of issues affecting dental care for Illinois citizens during an hour-long round-table discussion Aug. 5 at Erie Family Health Center in Evanston.

Representatives from the ADA, the Illinois State Dental Association, the Chicago Dental Society, local elected officials from Evanston, the Illinois Primary Healthcare Association and Erie Family Health Center gathered to offer the senator a tour of Erie’s Evanston dental clinic and answer his questions on a variety of topics.

Sen. Durbin’s visit began with a tour of the health center dental clinic, where Erie staff showcased the comprehensive range of oral health services available; the impact of Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and private insurance funding for patients in all of its clinics and use electronic health records.

image of Jenna Linden
Jenna Linden, a Community Dental Health Coordinator and dental hygienist in Appleton, Wisconsin, tells Sen. Durbin how CDHCs provide patients in their communities with dental health education and help them access needed care.

“How does the quality of care here compare to a private dental office?” Sen. Durbin asked Dr. Lisa Kearney, the clinic’s dental director.

“I feel like there is a misconception that if you visit a community health center, it will be a dark, dingy place in a basement with outdated equipment, where patients may not receive optimal care,” said Dr. Kearney. “In reality, community health centers like Erie Family Health Center are modern and light offices with state-of-the art equipment where patients can receive the highest quality health care.”

The senator followed up Dr. Kearney’s answer by asking if the clinic had any trouble recruiting and retaining dentists because of income differences between working in an FQHC and a private dental practice.

Dr. Kearney also noted that many dental students graduate with student loan debt that is sometimes $200,000 or more, and making a long term commitment to working at a health center can make them eligible for loan forgiveness that reduces their debt.

When Sen. Durbin quizzed the group on solutions to reduce emergency room dental visits, Dr. Jane Grover, director of the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations introduced him to the ADA’s Action for Dental Health movement and how states and communities nationwide are successfully implementing programs and strategies to lower ER visits and integrate more patients into dental homes.

“There are several kinds of successful ER referral models that are showing results in treating patients who have gone to the emergency room and were referred to dental offices to have the emergency issue resolved,” Dr. Grover said. “As a result, many of these patients have found a dental home and have not needed to go back to an ER.”

Sen. Durbin told the group that health centers like Erie are essential to providing good dental care and can play an important role in reducing instances of prescription pain medicine abuse that can occur as a result of patients going to an emergency room requesting prescription pain medication for dental pain.

Sen. Durbin also met Jenna Linden, a Community Dental Health Coordinator and dental hygienist who works in Appleton, Wisconsin. Ms. Linden has also completed CDHC sabbaticals in Vermont and Florida. She explained her role in her community as a dental health educator for patients and families, a coordinator to help patients find and access dental care services and a clinical provider of limited preventive care services, including application of fluoride varnish and sealants.

“I was privileged to share my experiences as a CDHC with Sen. Durbin,” Ms. Linden said, “considering that I have witnessed first hand the vital role a CDHC can play in increasing access to dental care and education among underserved populations.”

The round-table group also answered the senator’s questions about the number of dentists in the state, number of dental students graduating versus the number of dentists retiring, dental student debt, dental education for schoolchildren and families, community water fluoridation and Mission of Mercy events.

The National Association of Community Health Centers also presented Sen. Durbin with the 2014 Distinguished Community Health; Leadership Award during his visit.

Puerto Rico GKAS serves kids with special needs

image of GKAS Puerto Rico supporters
GKAS Puerto Rico supporters: From left, Dr. Edgar Colón, past acting chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus; Dr. Ana N. López, GKAS coordinator and director of community dentistry for the university’s School of Dental Medicine; Carmen Acosta, Colgate-Palmolive; Dr. Noel Aymat, past acting dean of the dental school and current chancellor of the Medical Sciences Campus, and Gilmartin Pares, Henry Schein gather during the GKAS program in February.

San Juan, Puerto Rico — This February, about 1,000 kids with special needs and their families from across Puerto Rico had lots of reasons to smile thanks to a growing Give Kids A Smile program that includes interactive oral health education, an art competition and exhibition, exams and follow-up care.

In 2014, more than 220 volunteers provided exams and education simultaneously at 11 sites organized through the University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine. General dentists, specialists, third- and fourth-year dental students, residents, faculty, predental students, nutrition students, dental assisting students and staff volunteered in interprofessional teams at the dental school, community health centers and schools around the island.

Now in its ninth year, the Puerto Rico GKAS program this year focused on serving special needs children. Children from a variety of organizations participated, including the San Gabriel School for the Deaf, Instituto Loaiza Cordero Para Niños Ciegos, Down Syndrome Foundation, SER de Puerto Rico, Pediatric Hospital of Puerto Rico, Instituto Psicopedagógico de Puerto Rico and other schools. Parents also received education on the benefits of good oral health and how to help and supervise the oral health care of their children.

Continuing a tradition in Puerto Rico, the 2014 GKAS included an art contest and exposition for children, from preschool to sixth grade, who created drawings showcasing the importance of good oral health. A group of artists from the local Down syndrome foundation also displayed and sold their artistic creations.

image of children with visual impairments learning how dental plaque feels
Hands-on education: Children with visual impairments learn how dental plaque feels in February at the GKAS program in Puerto Rico.

“Organizing hands-on activities that educate children and their caregivers on how to maintain good oral health and its benefits are key for the reduction of dental caries,” said Dr. Ana N. López, director of community dentistry at the dental school. “This activity is also an excellent way to compliment the education of the future health professionals, by giving them the opportunity to engage in community service learning through interprofessional collaborations. This is one of the many activities the dental school gets involved in as part of its mission and strategic plan.”

Volunteers provided exams, fluoride varnish applications and education. Children with urgent needs were referred to the dental school clinic or a local dentist for dental care. Kids also enjoyed puppet shows; hands-on preventive care activities like brushing and flossing targeted to the special needs of participating children; lessons on the importance of exercise, balanced nutrition, choosing healthy beverages and regular dental care to prevent caries; and a nutritious, oral-health friendly meal.

image of a student from the University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine helping a child with visual impairment learn to floss
Flossing lesson: A student from the University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine helps a child with visual impairment learn to floss during the 2014 GKAS Puerto Rico program.

“It is important to include special needs patients and to acknowledge their particular needs, to send the message that as a profession we educate our students to work with all patients regardless of their needs,” Dr. López said. “By working with these children and educating their caregivers, our students are also exposed to the needs of a variety of patients. As an academic institution we encourage voluntary and community work for all areas of the community, especially those more vulnerable and with less access to care. We also encourage the treatment of a diverse population.”

The University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine organizes the annual program with support from the ADA Give Kids A Smile program sponsors, Colgate and Henry Schein.

For more information about the ADA’s Give Kids A Smile program or to start your own program, please visit the GKAS Web page.

Study club collects dental equipment for Cuban clinics

photo of group in Cuba
Historic mission trip: Members of the Fialkoff Queens Dental Study Club arrive at the airport in Havana, Cuba, March 23 on a trip to donate dental equipment collected from dentists across the U.S.

After several years of planning and preparation, 16 members of the Fialkoff Queens Dental Study Club in New York were able to take a five-day humanitarian trip to Cuba in April.

The group, including dentists from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, spent several years collecting used dental equipment from dentists and organizations throughout the U.S. They brought more than $50,000 worth of donated equipment to the Cuban Ministry of Public Health for distribution to a variety of clinics.

The group was not able to practice dentistry in Cuba, but met with Cuban dentists, dental students and public health specialists during their five-day stay in Havana.

Dr. Bernard Fialkoff, a periodontist in Queens, was born in Cuba. He had not been back since his family emigrated in 1962, when he was 8 years old. He said that many participants in his 80-member study club actively work in New York area schools to provide education on oral health and drug addiction as a way to give back to the community. The Cuba humanitarian project, he added, offered members a way to make an international impact.

“Our study club supports the idea that dentists need to adhere to high standards for dentistry and continuing education to excel,” Dr. Fialkoff said. “Reaching out to the community or to the world outside our immediate sphere offers us a chance to network and exchange ideas. Dentists can do so much in their communities and worldwide to effect change and to help others.

The group also included Bob Schwartz, Disarm/Global Health Partners executive director, who helped the group secure the needed license to travel to Cuba; and Drs. Jonelle Cox, David Gavlin, Matthew Lee, Elie Marzouk, Kaveh Niknia, Charles Pellicane, Edward Portnoy, Maria Claudia Torres and Deborah Zivari.

Virginia MOM celebrates 15th anniversary in Wise


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            <span class= MOM anniversary: VDA President Ted Sherwin, ADA President Charles H. Norman and VDA Foundation President Patrick Finnerty pause for a picture during the 15th annual Mission of Mercy project in Wise, Va. 

Dr. Terry Dickinson, VDA executive director and founder of the Mission of Mercy program, shares a smile with a patient in July at the Wise, Va., MOM.

Growing program: Dr. Terry Dickinson, VDA executive director and founder of the Mission of Mercy program, shares a smile with a patient in July at the Wise, Va., MOM. 

Wise, Virginia — In the city where it all began, the Virginia Dental Association Foundation and some 375 volunteer dental professionals, students and others marked the 15th anniversary of its Mission of Mercy project by providing nearly 1,300 patients with free dental care during a MOM July 18-20 at the Wise County Fairgrounds.

Dr. Terry Dickinson, Virginia Dental Association executive director, created the MOM project in 2000.

“I never imagined that what started out as a small, but passionate group of volunteers, working together in an empty airplane hangar over 2-1/2 days one hot July in 2000 would become a national model of charitable dental care,” Dr. Dickinson said. “It’s like seeing your children grow up and be successful in their own ways. I am so proud to be part of such great organizations like the VDA and the ADA and the profession of dentistry, which has brought so many blessings to my life. It only affirms to me the greatness of our profession and the many gifts we share to those most in need. In return, the gifts we receive from those we serve are immeasurable.”

The MOM project has grown to have a tremendous impact on those in need of dental care, not only in Virginia, but in more than half of states nationwide.

“When we began this journey almost 15 years ago, we had no idea of the long-term impact it would have,” said Patrick Finnerty, VDA Foundation president. “Since then, this organization has had the privilege of partnering with thousands of dentists and volunteers to provide over $35 million in free dental care to more than 55,000 patients and families across the Commonwealth. In fact, the MOM program is so successful that more than 25 other states have implemented similar models.”

Although it was rainy and chilly during most of the clinic, the volunteers still provided $1.4 million in free preventive, restorative and surgical care to 1,300 patients. ADA President Charles H. Norman and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe also attended, and Gov. McAuliffe presented the VDA and VDAF with a proclamation honoring the program’s 15th anniversary.

“Having the president of the ADA working side by side with VDA members was both inspirational and an honor,” said Dr. Ted Sherwin, VDA president. “Also, to have Dr. Norman be part of the ceremony where the governor personally delivered a proclamation to the VDA in appreciation of 15 years of MOM was very exciting.

Dr. Sherwin credits the success of Virginia’s MOM in part to its dedicated volunteers. More than 20,000 volunteers have participated in 75 Virginia MOMs in the past 15 years.

“As each of the volunteers received their 15-year anniversary pins and T-shirts, under a tent hit hard with pouring rain and cold weather in southwest Virginia, we each knew what effort it has taken to do this for so many years,” Dr. Sherwin added. “Yet many of us keep coming back because of the way we see our patients transformed. It is spiritually gratifying in a way you cannot describe. Each of us, working together, share that special feeling and a bond you never forget.”

For more on the Virginia MOM program, visit vdaf.org.