Oral healthcare is an essential element in maintaining good overall health. Research shows that harmful bacteria and inflammation in the mouth can indicate and even cause systemic conditions throughout the body. Maladies of the mouth, including periodontal disease, may be linked with other medical conditions including oral cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and more.
The Smile Generation, a referral service that connects prospective patients with trusted local dentists in their communities, understands this link between oral health and whole-body health. Smile Generation-trusted dentists educate their patients about this link, known as the Mouth-Body Connection.
Unfortunately, according to the National Association of Dental Plans, about 74 million Americans had no dental coverage in 2016. As dentalpipeline.org notes, the underserved patient population includes persons with physical or mental disabilities; persons residing in geographically isolated areas or confined to their homes; and persons who are low-income or without dental insurance.
Increasing Access to Care for Patients in Need
For the past nine years, the Smile Generation has launched a nationwide annual day of service that focuses on dental care: Smile Generation Serve Day. On the same day in August each year, Smile Generation-trusted dental practices throughout the United States open their doors to provide free dentistry to patients in need.
Since the first Smile Generation Serve Day event in 2011, more than 15,000 patients have received donated dentistry totaling more than $25 million. On Saturday, August 17, more than 700 Smile Generation-trusted dental practices, supported by Pacific Dental Services, will provide donated dentistry to thousands of patients throughout the United States.
In support of Smile Generation Serve Day, the Smile Generation has partnered with several organizations dedicated to helping people in need, including After Innocence, Special Olympics International, and Dental Lifeline Network.
“Smile Generation Serve Day is a great event that allows our volunteers to serve more patients with special needs,” said Fred Leviton, CEO of Dental Lifeline Network, which provides dental care for people with disabilities, people who are elderly and medically fragile, and veterans.
“Many of these people will receive life-changing services they never would have gotten otherwise. We are so appreciative of all the volunteers who opened up their offices and changed lives in their local communities,” said Leviton.
After Innocence is a non-profit organization that serves prison exonerees nationwide, many of whom were falsely imprisoned for decades.
“After Innocence provides free post-release support to more than 500 exonerees across the country, many of whom who have serious dental problems arising from years of inadequate care while in prison, and a general lack of good, affordable care since being released,” said Jon Eldan, executive director of After Innocence.
“Our partnership with the Smile Generation for Smile Generation Serve Day is a gamechanger for dozens of our exoneree-clients. Smile Generation-supported dentists across 13 states are welcoming After Innocence exonerees into their offices, providing extensive pro bono services, and helping these deserving individuals take an important step in rebuilding their lives after wrongful convictions,” said Eldan.
Smile Generation Serve Day also helped Pamela, a homeless veteran in need of dental care. After serving her country and being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, she found it difficult to receive dental insurance, and she couldn’t afford to cover the cost on her own.
That changed during a previous Smile Generation Serve Day when she met Janki Patel, DMD, a Smile Generation-trusted dentist. Dr. Patel gave Pamela life-changing dental treatments that transformed her smile.
“I thank God for Dr. Patel,” said Pamela. “She said, ‘We’re going to bring your smile back, and it’s not going to cost you a cent.’”
Patient stories like these are at the heart of Smile Generation Serve Day, which speaks to the culture of service that Smile Generation-trusted dentists and their teams embody. However, it’s not just the patients’ lives that are impacted during this day of service. At the end of the day, volunteers are transformed knowing they helped underserved patients achieve not just healthier and happier smiles, but also a new sense of wellbeing.
Service is at the core of who we are as an organization at the Smile Generation. Participating in the act of service helps us focus on what matters most in life.
To learn more about Smile Generation Serve Day, click here.
Mr. Guerin started his relationship with Pacific Dental Services as a vendor partner in 2004 and officially joined the team in July of 2009. He currently is the director of the PDS Foundation and of corporate social responsibility. He has led 20 international dental service trips visiting Ethiopia, Fiji, and Guatemala, built 14 playgrounds with KaBoom, and helped provide clean drinking water to more than 175,000 people with Charity Water. Since joining PDS, he has inspired PDS team members to provide more than $65 million in donated dental services and spend 250,000 volunteer hours serving others, but his real passion is making an impact on every life he meets.