As the CDA Foundation plans for the CDA Cares free dental clinic in San Diego in December, many members are doing everything they can to help make sure the clinics are a success, even if they can’t physically be there to volunteer.
Through the Foundation’s “sponsor a dental chair” program, dentists can donate $500 toward providing patients a place to receive essential care at the clinics. Each donation goes a long way in helping change lives, said Cynthia Brattesani, DDS, chair of the CDA Cares San Jose fundraising committee.
“Putting on the CDA Cares clinics takes a lot of money, time and donations from companies that supply materials and products, and to help make the events successful we have established this sponsorship program so you can sponsor an operative chair,” said Brattesani, who also volunteered in San Jose. “Dentists have been really receptive to it and that is exciting because with those funds we can treat so many patients at future clinics.”
Brattesani said dentists continuously express excitement about the opportunity to donate.
“I think dentists in general are inclined toward generosity,” Brattesani said. “I know $500 is a lot during this economic climate, and that is why I was amazed at how many dentists donated money to sponsor a chair at the San Jose clinic and also how many want to donate for the upcoming San Diego clinic.”
The CDA Cares San Diego clinic will be held Dec. 7 to 8. On May 18-19, the San Jose clinic provided more than $1.6 million in care for 2,202 patients.
Those numbers don’t surprise Nava Fathi, DDS, who also volunteered at CDA Cares San Jose and is a member of the fundraising committee.
“Santa Clara County is one of the few counties in the state that is not fluoridated, and that has had a huge impact in our region. With the economy the way is, it’s imperative that we as dentists do something about that and CDA Cares is a great start,” Fathi said. “There are a lot of people who can’t afford dental care. We’re getting rid of pain and infection, so we’re doing a great thing.”
The mission of the CDA Foundation is to improve the oral health of all Californians by supporting the dental profession in its efforts to meet community needs. Aligning with that, the goal of CDA Cares is to provide oral health services and education for more than 1,500 patients at each event.
On top of the oral health services, CDA Cares shines a light on the type of pro bono work dentists already do in their communities and the commitment of the dental profession.
“CDA Cares is a great way for dentists to come together and remind the media and legislators what the profession is all about,” said Don Rollofson, DMD, chair of the CDA Foundation. “And the ‘sponsor a chair’ program is just another way to make this all happen, so we couldn’t be more thankful for all of the past donations and future donations made by member dentists.”
The clinics also give dentists the opportunity to build lasting bonds with one another, Fathi said.
“By planning and running the clinic together and going forward together as a team, members are building better relationships because we have a common cause and it feels good when your efforts come to fruition,” Fathi said. “On the last day of the clinics, every volunteer is exhausted but we leave with a good feeling and all your tiredness goes away because we know we have helped change lives.”
CDA Cares events also raise awareness within the public about the importance of good oral health and with policymakers about the need for a state dental director and oral health infrastructure to improve the safety net for all Californians.
State budget cuts eliminated virtually all adult Denti-Cal benefits in 2009, decimating oral health services for more than 3 million poor, disabled and elderly Californians. In addition, the state eliminated funding for the California Children’s Dental Disease Prevention Program (SB 111), which provided preventive oral health care and vital resources to low-income children.
CDA Cares attempts to bridge the gap between those cuts and the lack of care as a result of them. The “sponsor a chair” program is an easy way for dentists to do their part, Brattesani said.
“We made it simple by clicking on ‘sponsorship opportunities’ under ‘support CDA Cares’ at cdafoundation.org/cdacares,” Brattesani said. “All you have to do then is fill out the form online and plug in your credit card information; to think a few simple clicks can make a huge difference.”
Chair sponsors receive a black scrub jacket with “CDA Cares Chair Sponsor” printed on it.
For more information or to sponsor a chair at the next CDA Cares event slated for December in San Diego, call 916.554.5951. For more information about CDA Cares, visit cdafoundation.org/cdacares.