Cincinnati Dental Society helps improve access to care through various programs
The Cincinnati Dental Society organizes several access to care programs and events throughout the year. The society’s programs range from providing care to veterans to school-based dental centers and everything in between.
Volunteer dentists, including specialists, and hygienists and dental assistants participate in these programs, which are funded by the Cincinnati Dental Society’s Oral Health Foundation, various grants and donations.
“Volunteering provides us with the opportunity to help individuals who otherwise may not have access to dental services,” said Dr. Whitney Wauligman, a member of the Cincinnati Dental Society. “It is important to maintain patients’ oral health and educate them on the value of preventive care. Providing positive dental experiences can inspire patients to care for their teeth for the rest of their lives. For many patients in need, volunteer dentists can mean the difference between neglected dental conditions and a healthy smile.”
Programs through the dental society treat people who do not have dental insurance or Medicaid and whose families are at 200 percent or below the federal poverty level. In 2015, the Cincinnati Dental Society provided $268,948 in donated care through its various programs.
“Leave No Vet Behind”
The Cincinnati Dental Society created the “Leave No Vet Behind” program in 2009 to treat veterans that are not eligible to receive dental care at the VA Medical Center.
“We, (Cincinnati dentists), have the privilege of donating care to a select group that has sacrificed for us, yet not demanded or expected our care in return,” said Dr. Kenneth Brandt, president of CDS’s Oral Health Foundation. “They were, in fact, shocked that anyone even cared about them. It is so fulfilling for me and my staff to welcome these appreciative and cooperative patients into our office. It is finally our time to protect them!”
The program got started after a few dentists with the Cincinnati Dental Society learned that only about 8 to 10 percent of veterans are eligible to receive dental care at the VA Medical Center, and so the Cincinnati VA Medical Center emergency room was seeing a lot of repeat patients who needed dental care. The patients did not have dental insurance, and the hospital could only prescribe medication, but not treat the underlying problem.
Through the program, volunteer dentists, including specialists, provide comprehensive dental care in their private offices, at CrestSmile Shoppe and McMicken Dental Center. They provide oral exams, X-rays, cleanings, root canals, restorations, simple extractions, surgical extractions, perio treatment and removable prosthetics.
A grant from the ODA Foundation assisted with expanding the services provided by the program.
“When we first started the program we did not have funding to help replace missing teeth. Even though we were getting these folks out of pain and removing infection, we also left them without teeth. They had healthier mouths, but no teeth,” said Vicki Nixon, executive director of the Cincinnati Dental Society. “We began really focusing on raising funds for this purpose and the ODA Foundation grant helped cover lab fees for removable prosthetics.”
Cincinnati Dental Society members served 110 veterans in 2015 for a total of $124,383.10 in care, 87 percent of which was donated.
“Over the past few years our team has worked with several veterans,” said Dr. Matthew Parker, CDS president. “We consistently get more than we give with these folks. I’ve been particularly touched by one gentleman who suffers from PTSD and who has really begun to thrive again. We replaced his two badly decayed front teeth with dental implants and gave Mark his smile and his self-confidence back. This program is an invaluable piece of a bigger mission to restore our veterans in spirit, mind and health, and I feel very privileged to be a part of the ‘Leave No Vet Behind’ program.”
In 2010, the “Leave No Vet Behind” program received a Golden Apple Award from the American Dental Association and the Ohio Dental Association’s Access to Dental Care Award.
School-based dental centers
Volunteer dentists from the Cincinnati Dental Society provide care at three school-based dental clinics: the Delta Dental Center at Oyler School, Deaconess Health Check at Western Hills/Dater High School and Withrow Dental Center.
Dr. Wayne Wauligman, past president of CDS, volunteers with his daughter Dr. Whitney and hygienist Diane at the Delta Dental Center at Oyler School.
“One 15-year-old girl with pink hair and a red, colorful outfit, had green teeth,” Dr. Wayne Wauligman said. “When finished cleaning her teeth, I handed her a mirror and she was stunned her smile could look so good! Diane cleaned another teenager’s teeth and remarked she had never seen such a difficult case. Yes, there was spontaneous bleeding even before she started. Yet the patient was very grateful for the care, concern and oral hygiene instruction that Diane gave. The last student, a 16-year-old who only spoke Spanish, had two abscessed lower molars. For the long period of time it took me to do two root canals, she was exceptionally patient. Considering the rest of her teeth were in good shape, I feel we saved her entire mouth.”
For several years, Dr. Veronica Glogowski worked on a mobile dental van through the CincySmiles organization which offered full-service dental care by travelling to Cincinnati’s schools.
“With these school-based clinics, their work has more staying power,” Glogowski said. “They are going into the schools to do the preventive work in each school and only have to transport the kids that need treatment to one of the in-school dental clinics. It is a more sustainable model and I am glad to see this improvement since working on the mobile unit.”
Volunteer dentists saw 52 children at school-based dental clinics and donated $74,144 in care in 2015.
Children’s Specialty Care Program
Through the Children’s Specialty Care Program, dental specialists treat uninsured children who need extensive dental work or who might have a behavioral issue and need to be sedated. In the past, these children would have been referred to a hospital, but that is much more costly and the application process can be burdensome, Nixon said.
“It’s a better experience for them when they can go into a smaller office and don’t have to work through the system,” Nixon said. “These kids are getting the specialty care they actually need instead of coming back to health centers in worse shape.”
Volunteer dentists provide surgical extractions, extensive pediatric dentistry, root canals, in-office sedation, and some orthodontics in their private offices.
“These kids are in bad shape,” Nixon said. “A 6-year-old with full mouth decay, it would take years to get all of that work done without sedation, and it’s a bad experience at that point also. If you sedate them and make them feel comfortable, then they can complete all of the work and move forward in maintaining a good oral health regimen.”
The Cincinnati Dental Society offers to reimburse the specialists for up to 50 percent of their costs, however only about 10 percent of the dentists ask to be reimbursed. The dental society covers the full cost of sedation for those patients who need to be sedated.
In 2015, volunteers saw 16 children and provided $42,602 in care, 60 percent of which was donated.
Su Casa Adult Dental Care Program
The Su Casa Hispanic Center provides social, educational, language, employment and health care services to the Hispanic/Latino community in Greater Cincinnati. Last summer, the center approached the Cincinnati Dental Society seeking help with adult dental care. While the children involved with the center often had no trouble finding dental care, access to care was much more difficult for the adult immigrants.
Through the Su Casa Adult Dental Care Program, volunteer dentists, including specialists, provide comprehensive care in their private offices and at CincySmiles Dental Center, formally known as the McMicken Dental Center. Care provided includes oral exams, X-rays, cleanings, restorative treatment, simple extractions, surgical extractions, perio treatment, root canals and removable prosthetics.
In 2015, dentists saw 105 people and provided $22,026 in care, 66 percent of which was donated.
Lighthouse Youth Services
Lighthouse Community School is a charter school in Cincinnati aimed at meeting the educational needs of youth in the child welfare system. The students at Lighthouse are often in and out of foster care and are often distrusting of others outside of the school, Nixon said. She said the Cincinnati Dental Society has been working with the school for about five years, and the students are becoming more trusting.
Volunteers visit once a year to provide education on the importance of oral hygiene. They begin by telling a story about Kyle Willis, who went to the ER with dental pain. He was prescribed an antibiotic and pain medication, but could not afford the antibiotic. A week and a half later he had to go back to the ER, but the infection had spread throughout his body and he was brain dead. Volunteers then speak about oral hygiene, nutrition and bad oral health habits like chewing tobacco. They also educate them about oral health care for their kids, because many of them have young children.
Dr. Becky Hayden, general dentist and member of the CDS Access to Dental Care Committee and ODA Council on Access to Care and Public Service, also provides basic oral exams four times per year, and treatment is provided as needed at the Crest Smile Shoppe
On a day that is all about being thankful, seven volunteer dentists gave 147 patients something extra to be thankful for. A team of dentists volunteered on Thanksgiving Day to provide oral exams to those that do not have a dentist.
The Fall Feast was originally set up to provide Thanksgiving dinners to the homeless population. It has now grown to include a health fair to meet the basic needs of the homeless, and the Cincinnati Dental Society has participated to help provide basic oral exams and oral cancer screenings for the past five years.
Nixon said that through this program, dentists have been able to refer patients to University of Cincinnati Hospital to perform biopsies for free upon discovering signs of oral cancer.
Each patient was given a referral to a dentist in order to establish a dental home. The total value of donated care through this program in 2015 was $11,025.
Nixon said that over the years, they’ve seen some patients come back and they can see improvements in their oral health.
In addition to dental care, the participants were able to receive other free health care services, including blood pressure checks, eye exams, nutrition information and diabetes screenings. They also received toiletries, coats and a free turkey dinner.
Cincinnati Dental Society and Scarlet Oaks Adult Dental Program
Dentists with the Cincinnati Dental Society volunteer at Scarlet Oaks Dental Assisting Lab to help provide dental assisting students with hands-on experience.
Scarlet Oaks has two dental assisting programs – one for high school students during the day, and a second evening program for adults. The students in the evening program often don’t have an opportunity to do job shadowing or externships because they are working or taking care of their families during the day when dental offices are typically open. So volunteer dentists go to the school one evening per week and provide care to underserved adults. The program runs from February to May.
Nixon said it’s a great program because it helps the students to get more experience while also improving access to care for adult students attending evening classes.
“It’s a win-win for everyone,” she said.
Volunteers provided oral exams, X-rays, cleanings, restorative, simple extractions, and removable prosthetics to 40 adults in 2015, resulting in $34,119 in donated care.
Cincinnati Dental Society provides many avenues for volunteering, garnering the involvement of general dentists and specialists alike.
“Our dentists and specialists give so much of their time and talent for our community in Cincinnati. I am so very proud to be part of their kindness,” Nixon said.