The American Association of Endodontists’ Foundation for Endodontics took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony and is supporting a new endodontics operatory at the Stephen Klein Wellness Center in North Philadelphia, where 31% of the population lives under the federal poverty line, or twice the national average.
Operated by Project HOME, the center will be staffed on a part-time basis by an endodontic resident and faculty member from the Einstein Healthcare Network’s I.B. Bender Division of Endodontics, Department of Dental Medicine. It serves low-income patients who otherwise would likely face tooth extraction—for example, providing free root canals for the homeless.
“Patients at the Project HOME clinic will now have the opportunity to save their natural teeth under the care of an endodontic specialist,” said Peter Morgan, DMD, MScD, president of the foundation. “What a great benefit to that community and a great experience for endodontic residents. This is a rewarding outcome to all of the work by all involved.”
“Root canal procedures for adults aren’t covered by Medicaid, so instead of saving a tooth with a root canal and a filling, the tooth is usually extracted,” said AAE member Frederic Barnett, DMD, chairman of the Maxwell S. Fogel Department of Dental Medicine at Einstein. “There are a million reasons why that’s bad.”
Significant tooth loss and untreated dental disease have been linked to a higher risk of obesity or malnutrition, heart disease, cancer, and reduced cognitive function, the Project HOME reports. Also, missing and decayed teeth can impact self-esteem, which can interfere with employment opportunities.
The endeavor was inspired by the foundation’s mission expansion in 2016 to include access to care. Philadelphia endodontist Louis Rossman, DMD, who endorsed a domestic mission when he was president of the foundation, will volunteer as a faculty member at the clinic.
“My idea was to take the nearly 450 post-doctoral residents who attend close to 58 different universities learning to specialize in endodontics and have them rotate in their local communities,” Rossman said. “The decision was made to use Project Home at the Klein Wellness Center as our trial program.”
The foundation has funded volunteer outreach opportunities to Jamaica, but this is its first domestic undertaking. Project HOME is the primary resource network for homeless and underserved populations in Philadelphia.
“You don’t have to go far out of our own zip code to see the desperate need for our services,” said Barnett. “We are looking forward to a long-term association with Project Home and the vulnerable people they serve.”
The foundation also would like to thank Carl Zeiss Meditec for providing an OPMI PICO microscope on a long-term loan for use in the operatory and Brasseler and Henry Schein for the discounted sale of other endodontic equipment that will be used in the laboratory.