Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wis. Dental Assoc.: 245 elderly, disabled receive $762,000 in donated dental care

Wisconsin Dental Association, www.wda.org, 6737 W. Washington St., Suite 2360, West Allis, WI 53214
CONTACT: Victoria M. Bohman, Executive Director
PHONE: 414-755-4198 (direct)
E-MAIL: vbohman@wda.org


245 elderly, disabled receive $762,000 in donated dental care

WEST ALLIS, WIS., Aug. 25, 2011 – Two-hundred and forty-five disabled, senior, poor and uninsured adults across the state received $762,366 worth of comprehensive dental treatment at no cost to them from some 200 volunteer dentists between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011 under the Wisconsin Dental Association Foundation’s Donated Dental Services program. In addition, 75 dental laboratories gave $42,151 in materials and services.

“I am in awe of the doctors I have had the luck to work with and feel so blessed to have received such an amazing gift,” wrote a DDS patient from Oshkosh, Wis. in a  thank you note to program coordinators Over the course of six months, the woman was treated by a general dentist and oral surgeon with support from three dental labs. She required 10 fillings, two crowns and several extractions before receiving new upper and lower partial dentures.

Many DDS patients generally need extensive dental work that can include bridges, crowns or dentures at a cost of about $3,200 per person.

DDS patients do not qualify for government assistance programs and cannot afford dental care, because a permanent disability, chronic illness or advanced age restricts their income-earning capability. Patients are selected on the basis of financial need and a phone interview with a referral coordinator. A patient candidate then visits a volunteer dentist who assesses dental need and decides whether to accept the financial and clinical responsibilities of providing comprehensive dental care for the individual.

The state of Wisconsin, Delta Dental of Wisconsin and WDA Insurance and Services Corp. provide limited monetary support for administrative and lab costs. In the past, participating dentists have donated more than eight dollars in clinical expertise, treatment and materials for every dollar in funding from the three entities and more than $13 in care for every dollar the state pays into the program.

The amount dentists donate will increase in fiscal year 2011-2012 when the state reduces its support of the program by $6,000.

Drs. Douglas and Jeffrey Wolk, brothers and general dentists in Oshkosh, are two of the program’s volunteer dentists who provide this often life-changing care to DDS patients in their private practices without public or legislative fanfare.

"I have been involved in the DDS program since 1999,” Dr. Doug Wolk said. “During that time, I have met and been able to help a lot of very nice people with their dental needs. For whatever reason, they have not been able to access quality dental care. This program connects willing dentists with patients in need.

“I'm sure I am speaking for every dentist in the program when I say that it is our pleasure to help, because we know the patients are so grateful."

September is Healthy Aging Month, a good time to remember that the U.S. Surgeon General recognizes oral health as an integral part of a person’s total health. Studies show poor oral health may be linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and oral cancer.

Ensuring residents have proper dental care, with a doctor of oral health being the primary care provider, is important to the Badger State economically and socially.

Donated Dental Services was established in 1998. Since then, 749 volunteer dentists have donated more than $6.8 million in care to 2,399 patients; 150 dental labs contributed $494,000 in additional supplies and services.

Visit WDA.org for more information on this charitable care program. Residents of Calumet, Dodge, Door, Fond du Lac, Grant, Green, Jefferson, Kenosha, Kewaunee, La Fayette, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Rock, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha and Winnebago counties can also contact DDS Program Director Carol Shoemaker at 888-338-6852. Residents of all other Wisconsin counties should call DDS Program Coordinator Bonnie Townsend at 866-812-9840.
To make a tax-deductible donation to support the elderly and disabled who receive needed dental care through this statewide oral health program, make checks payable to the WDA Foundation and note “Donated Dental Services” in the memo line. Mail to: WDA Foundation, 6737 W. Washington St., Suite 2360, West Allis WI 53214.

The Wisconsin Dental Association was established in 1870. With more than 3,000 members statewide, the WDA represents 88 percent of all licensed dentists in Wisconsin. Members are committed to promoting professional excellence and quality oral health care. The WDA Foundation was created as the charitable arm of the association in 1957. A qualified, tax-exempt corporation, the foundation provides scholarships to dental and dental hygiene students, gives financial support to projects providing dental care to the underserved and other dental-related philanthropic endeavors. It also administers Donated Dental Services and helps underwrite the Mission of Mercy program. WDA Foundation is a proud member of Community Health Charities of Wisconsin. For more information, call 414-276-4520, visit our WDA.org website and find us on Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube.

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