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Local Dentists Volunteer Time and Services

UCM clients benefit from free dental work.

When United Community Ministries (UCM) asked Dr. James D. Geren and his team, and another local dentist, Dr. Jeffery Weaver, to be part of National "Make A Difference Day," they gladly complied.

The two dentists and hygienists, Anita Haas, Jeremy Smith, Stephanie Smith, Beth Hatchell and Donna Wood, gave up a Saturday, offering general hygiene/cleanings, extractions, fillings, sealants, and possible root canals to those who have difficulty accessing proper dental care — all for free. In all they served over 65 clients, according to Jen Molden, transitional housing counselor, who said that clients were informed about the service by transitional housing workers.

“There is definitely a need — we had to turn people away,” Molden said. “We would like to do this twice a year — a dental clinic like this benefits everybody. If we could get other dentists to participate, that would be great.”

This was the first time that UCM was given the opportunity to extend an invitation to their clients, both adults and children, to receive free dental services from a dental provider in their own back yard.

“The reason that this day was so important is that access to dental care remains a major challenge for the uninsured, under insured and homeless residents in our community. Barriers to care are the cost of care, lack of affordable dental insurance, lack of public programs for dental care and the lack of dental providers in our community,” said Tracy Davis, development officer.

“Without good oral health habits, many individuals suffer from additional health complications, which lead to added health care costs. A dental cleaning and exam can lead to a savings of thousands of dollars in the future for health care expenses related to lack of proper oral care,” Davis said, adding that participants were screened by UCM employees and volunteers to determine the greatest need as well as to determine the severity of each situation. All clients were given the opportunity to access this service on a first-come first-serve basis providing they met UCM requirements for service.

For more information on future dental clinics, call 703-768-7102, ext. 328.