They say a smile is worth a thousand words, which is why Dental Lifeline Network has dedicated the past 50 years to helping underserved communities share theirs proudly with the world. The national nonprofit organization recruits volunteer dentists and labs who donate comprehensive dental care to the elderly, people with disabilities, and others who cannot otherwise obtain care. Since its inception, DLN has managed to help over 166,000 individuals receive the life-changing care they deserve—with dignity.
How It All Began
Inspired by a desire to help people with disabilities, like his sister Barbie, receive oral healthcare, Dr. Larry Coffee first established the organization in 1974. A year later, he launched the first major initiative: the Campaign of Concern Program in Colorado to provide oral hygiene training and education on everything from oral health diseases to adaptive tools for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities along with their caregivers. The COC would also match potential patients in need with dental care providers.
DLN in Action
A decade later, DLN launched the Donated Dental Services program, recruiting dentists and labs to volunteer their time and services. Among the first to offer their expertise were Dr. Kit Haddow and the DaLee Dental Lab. The first patient was finally treated via the DDS program two years later thanks to the care of Dr. Ronald Concialdi. Just a few years later, the DDS program expanded with the creation of the New Jersey program thanks to Dr. Justin Stone.
What DLN Looks Like Today
In the last few years, DLN continues to grow, achieving so much more than what Dr. Coffee first set out to do. In 2021, the organization announced an even grander achievement: $500M in donated dental treatment, made possible thanks to 39,000 volunteer dentists, 6,500 laboratories, and 15,500 partners, donors, and supporters.
“As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dental Lifeline Network, we honor a legacy built on 50 years of dedicated and compassionate dental care,” said Lynda Ricketson, current CEO of Dental Lifeline Network. “Together, we’ve transformed lives and created enduring stories of impact. Here’s to the remarkable journey we’ve shared, and the countless lives touched along the way.”
Why I Dental
Today, DLN is asking dentists around the nation to share ‘Why I Dental’ to continue to inspire their colleagues to volunteer their services.
“I volunteer for DLN because it gives me that warm fuzzy feeling like I had in dental school,” said Dr. Tom J. Sniscak, DLN board member and volunteer. “When we were just treating human beings and not trying to run the business of a practice and trying to make people healthier through oral care.”
DLN couldn’t make so many smiles happen without the help of its volunteers.
Let us know why YOU dental and sign up today to keep Dr. Coffee’s dream—and that of all of DLN’s patients—live.