CDA Cares 'brings the profession closer together as a whole'

Q&A with Anaheim Local Arrangements Committee Chair John Taylor, DDS

“A bunch of givers,” nonexistent egos, a “whatever it takes” attitude. John Taylor, DDS, uses all of these terms to describe the volunteers he has worked alongside at CDA Cares clinics, from his first in San Diego in 2013 — the one that got him “hooked” — to the Bakersfield clinic last fall. Taylor, who practiced general dentistry in Oklahoma City for 23 years before moving to California in 2010 and purchasing a practice in Ladera Ranch, has provided dental care in the restorative area, reviewed patient X-rays, made final treatment determinations, served as team lead and helped set up two CDA Cares events.

The former president-elect of the Oklahoma County Dental Society and current president of the Orange County Dental Society — “I got to keep OCDS!” Taylor says, laughing — is now putting all of his organizational knowledge and leadership skills to the test in a new role. As chair of the Anaheim CDA Cares Local Arrangements Committee, he oversees a committee that helps recruit volunteers from the dental profession and general community, raises funds and identifies and secures pharmaceuticals and local dental lab equipment over a 12- to 14-month period before the CDA Foundation’s biannual two-day clinic opens its doors April 27 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

CDA spoke with Taylor about his past experiences in the clinics, preparations for CDA Cares Anaheim and the regional need for the clinic.

Can you speak about the particular need for this event in Anaheim and the surrounding area?
Anaheim is a dense population that is very mixed in cultural and socio-economic strata. We have the highly affluent within two blocks of the unemployed or even homeless populations. There are highly educated [people] as well as immigrants with little or no formal education. Reaching out to all of the diverse ethnicities and health agencies is going to be vital to getting the word out to people in need of these services as well as the volunteers needed to have sufficient translators, especially for all of the various languages that reside within Orange County and beyond.

What have you gained from volunteering at past CDA clinics, particularly as it might help you approach and organize the upcoming Anaheim clinic?
I found out before the San Mateo clinic that I was going to be the local arrangements chair for Anaheim, so I helped with setup day for both the San Mateo and Bakersfield events. This gave me a great appreciation for all that is involved and needed, especially the organization of volunteers.

What I have come to love and depend upon most at the clinics is that these volunteers are a bunch of “givers.” They are willing to do whatever is needed and egos are almost nonexistent. The shared “whatever it takes” attitude was phenomenal in our sections. For instance, if restorative was a little slow and surgery was overrun, we would seamlessly transfer some surgeries to restorative until things equalized. When lab was falling behind, we sent a few people for impressions over to restorative. Everybody “won.”

Tell us about your efforts to recruit volunteers and why having a sufficient number of volunteers is important to the success of these clinics. Have there been any challenges?
As much as I love these events and know many, many people who have attended every event since 2012, I am amazed by how many people within our profession have never heard of it.

We are contacting as many of the local dental societies as possible, but it becomes more difficult getting the word out to nonmember dentists, auxiliaries and nondental volunteers. I spoke to our local dental hygienist component last Saturday, and there was a very positive response. We also contact the local dental schools. While the students cannot perform dentistry, there are many supportive roles they can fulfill.

And if any volunteers out there have prior commitments on April 27–28, we will also be looking for dental offices that are available for the two weeks or so following the event to help with any needed post-operative emergency care, so I urge readers to check out the volunteer registration site. Also, word of mouth is very important so tell all of your friends! The bottom line is volunteers at all levels are the backbone of these events. The more volunteers we have, the more efficient we are; the less worn out we all get, the more treatment we are able to give, etc.

Would you like to say anything else that would interest volunteers or would-be volunteers?
I see that CDA Cares Anaheim has several opportunities, including making a greater population aware of what our association is doing for access-to-care issues. And as much as the current and previous volunteers love these events, creating a new generation of “groupies” that follow the events from site to site would be wonderful! I would love to create mentor-mentee positions for some of our lead positions to give the event options when our current groupies have other plans or just need a break from an event.

Any event like this brings the profession closer together as a whole. Call me crazy, but I like hanging out with a bunch of caring dental professionals. They are my kind of people. And, by the way, I firmly believe this is one of the best things we do.
In addition to providing dental services at no charge to Californians who experience barriers to care, CDA Cares, the CDA Foundation's volunteer dental program, educates the public and policymakers about the importance of good oral health and the need for an adequately funded dental safety net, which includes a well-functioning Denti-Cal program. Dental volunteers help relieve pain and infection by offering extractions, fillings, limited root canals, cleanings and oral heatlh education. Dentists also provide temporary full and partial dentures. At the Bakersfield clinic in October 2017, volunteer dentists provided more than $1.25 million in care to 1,506 people.

Register to volunteer at CDA Cares Anaheim. Volunteer dentists and dental professionals are needed in all areas, including restorative, numbing, pediatric, triage and routing. Community volunteers are needed to assist with registration, setup, data entry, escorting patients, language translation and more.

Related Items

Thousands of Californians receive no-cost dental treatment at CDA Cares, the CDA Foundation’s biannual clinic. For some of these individuals, the treatment is life-changing, but the lives of volunteers are also changed by giving others health, hope and happiness. CDA Cares comes to Anaheim April 27–28. If you volunteer for or donate to CDA Cares, you can easily share why you care with our social media toolkit.

In the small, close-knit Tongan community in Hayward and the surrounding region, word spread rapidly about a no-cost dental clinic that would visit nearby San Mateo in spring of 2017. Among those who learned about the CDA Foundation’s two-day, volunteer-run biannual clinic was a woman named Eva.

Between the two of them, Jesica Gonzalez and Walter Fuentes, both third-year dental students, have volunteered at 10 CDA Cares clinics. As the Bakersfield natives have progressed in school — Gonzalez at UCSF School of Dentistry and Fuentes at UCLA School of Dentistry — they and others have seen their capabilities evolve at the CDA Foundation’s biannual two-day clinic, which provides oral health care services at no charge to underserved communities.