Dugoni Offering Free Dental Care to Veterans This Week

Richard Gawel
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Each November 11, the United States honors its veterans. But in addition to the formal ceremonies honoring their service, many organizations reach out to do more for those who may be struggling in civilian life. The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco, for example, has scheduled free dental checkups this week.

This is the fifth year in a row that the school has provided these free checkups in San Francisco. This year, its affiliated dental clinic in Union City in the East Bay also will open up to veterans so more of them will have an opportunity to participate. According to Sigmund H. Abelson, DDS, associate dean for clinical affairs at the school, the care is needed since many veterans don’t have dental insurance.

“When men and women from the armed services are discharged, they no longer have dental benefits as part of their medical coverage from the Veterans Administration,” Abelson said. “We are looking to provide options for these individuals who are looking to obtain care and improve their health.”

The school, located at 155 Fifth Street in San Francisco, will offer its checkups on Thursday, November 10. Attendees will get their oral health questions answered and receive a dental checkup, blood pressure check, oral cancer screening, and a health gift bag with a toothbrush and other dental items. Faculty, staff, and students also will be available to explain a dental services program for military veterans that can provide more care beyond the checkup.

“Last year we started offering a new, ongoing, reduced-fee dental program designed just for veterans. Patients are offered care at the state’s Denti-Cal rate, which is often up to 30% to 40% off the typical rate of private practice. If the patients are a fit to be a patient of the school, we welcome them to become an ongoing patient in this program,” said Abelson.

Payment plans are available for those who qualify. Comprehensive care including additional checkups, cleanings, fillings, scaling and root planing, removable partial dentures, crowns, endodontic procedures, and dental implants is provided by dental students and residents under the supervision of faculty. In cases where the school can’t meet the needs of these patients, it refers them to other clinics or local dental professionals.

“Our attendees are very thankful and happy to come to the dental school for this event. They learn about their oral health, get their questions answered, and talk to our friendly students, faculty, and staff, some of whom are military veterans themselves,” said Abelson.

The Union City Dental Care Center, located at 1203 J Street, is offering free checkups each day through Friday, November 11. Attendees there also will get their questions answered, a dental screening, blood pressure check, oral cancer screening, and a health gift bag. The practice focuses on advanced dentistry including fillings, implants, cosmetic dentistry, same-day crowns, dentures, minimally invasive procedures, Invisalign, and 3-D imaging.

“The veterans we have seen in the past have typically been a little older,” Abelson said. However, we invite veterans of all ages to stop by, since taking care of your oral health is so important at any age and stage of life.”

Appointments are necessary at both venues. To attend the November 10 clinic at the school, scheduled for 9:30 am to 1 pm, veterans should call (415) 351-7128. Checkups will take approximately 20 minutes. To sign up for a checkup at the Union City Dental Care Center, which will run from 9 am to 3 pm each day, veterans should call (510) 489-5200.

“Each year this event grows a little more and gets more support from our students, staff, and faculty,” said Abelson. “This year, our staff Employee Volunteer Opportunities Committee is volunteering to provide snacks and beverages in a hospitality room, and we have many students who ask to get involved in helping out at the event. It’s a great opportunity to give back to the community and support these veterans who have given so much to their country.”

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