Hosted by the California Dental Association Foundation and CDA, the CDA Cares volunteer dental clinic at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in northern San Diego County provided more than $1.6 million in charitable dental services to 2,203 patients during the two-day event held Dec. 7-8.
This was the first CDA Cares event in Southern California and the fourth clinic held by CDA and the CDA Foundation since 2012 that provided dental services and oral health education at no charge to Californians who experience barriers to care.
“These events not only provide charitable care, but also highlight the importance of good oral health and the need for an adequately funded dental safety net, including a state dental director to coordinate programs to improve the oral health of Californians,” said CDA President James Stephens, DDS, who has volunteered at all four events. “CDA Cares has been instrumental in the partial restoration of Adult Denti-Cal, which is a crucial first step, but the state still needs to address the poor reimbursement rates in the program.”
During the two-day event, dentists and dental professionals provided more than 12,518 dental procedures, including cleanings, fillings, extractions and oral health education. Additionally, volunteer dental lab technicians worked to create 221 complete and partial dentures and repairs.
The Del Mar Fairgrounds clinic was supported by 1,700 volunteers, including more than 900 health professionals — dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, nurses and dental lab technicians — as well as hundreds of community volunteers who helped make the event a success. It is also supported by many corporate sponsors, including dental supply companies and local community restaurants and service vendors.
“It is great to see so many dentists and volunteers coming together to donate their time and skills in order to give back to our communities. With this effort, we’ve had a tremendous impact across the state,” said Don Rollofson, DMD, chair of the CDA Foundation. “CDA Cares is truly the best of our profession in action.”
Modesto resident, Ron, was one of the many patients who received care at no charge at CDA Cares San Diego. Ron had his top teeth pulled in May 2012 at CDA Cares Modesto and then at CDA Cares San Jose in May 2013, he had his bottom teeth pulled. At CDA Cares San Diego last month, he received a set of new dentures at no charge. (A limited number of complete and partial dentures are provided at each clinic.)
“This was the only way I was going to get new teeth,” said Ron, who works as an electrician but says he just can’t afford new dentures on his budget.
The biggest thing his new dentures are going to allow him to do is gain more respect in his professional life.
“It’s terrible working with people and not having teeth, I feel like I’m looked down upon like I’m a drug addict or something else. I’ve never done anything like that,” Ron said. “It means so much to me and all these other people out here helping.”
In addition to providing care for patients like Ron who would otherwise go without, CDA Cares also educates the public and policymakers about the importance of good oral health and the need for an adequately funded dental safety net and a strong state infrastructure, including a state dental director, who can develop programs to improve the oral health of Californians. Several elected officials toured the clinic, including Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego); Assemblymember Brian Maienschein (R-San Diego); Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego); Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar); Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego); and San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts. San Diego County supported the event with a generous contribution.
Assemblymember Gonzalez was impressed with the clinic.
“It was wonderful to see so many volunteers from the San Diego community and beyond working together to help improve the dental health of the underserved,” Gonzalez said. “At the same time, it was heartbreaking to see such tremendous need at the clinic, which demonstrates how critical it is that we improve California’s dental health programs.”
To view photos and videos of volunteers and patients at CDA Cares San Diego, visit the CDA Cares Social Hub at cdafoundation.org/socialhub. To follow all social activity on Twitter and Instagram at CDA Cares use the hashtag #cdacares.
Since 2012, the CDA Cares volunteer dental program has provided $6 million in care to more than 8,000 patients.
The next CDA Cares event is scheduled to be held in Solano County in April 25-26.
For more information, to register to volunteer or to donate, visit cdafoundation.org.
The video below is an example of the type of life-changing moments that happened at CDA Cares San Diego.