Volunteer dentists, including oral surgeons, lab technicians, dental hygienists and assistants, and other team members are important pieces that make CDA Cares clinics run smoothly. They come from all over the state and vary in age. Many new dentists enjoy participating in the free dental clinics because they are eager to volunteer the skills they garnered during dental school.
Jacob Barber, DDS, is a recent graduate of the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.
“I think it’s important for new dentists to get started on the right foot, and a day or two of your time to help at an event like this is really worthwhile,” Barber said. “It’s a great way to build relationships between fellow practitioners and younger dentists, as well as connect with your community.”
Barber will be at the CDA Cares San Jose dental clinic next month. He volunteered in the oral surgery area of last year’s CDA Cares Sacramento clinic where 2,669 teeth were extracted.
“It was a busy day, we saw so many patients who couldn’t afford dental care. Just having the pain relieved was a big deal for them,” Barber said.
The CDA Foundation’s clinical philosophy for CDA Cares is to establish individual treatment plans with the goal of relieving pain and infection. Patients complete a health history form prior to dental triage and list their top priority for dental care. From this information, the need for antibiotics prior to dental treatment, the need for immediate medical treatment that cannot be provided on site, and serious medical conditions, medications or other issues that may interfere with or prevent dental treatment are identified.
Last year, the CDA Foundation and CDA hosted two CDA Cares clinics that provided $2.8 million in dental care that helped relieve pain and infection for 3,676 patients.
“CDA Cares offering cleanings, fillings and extractions to those who face barriers to care is great because there are so many people who need help,” Barber said.
Charles Kim, DDS, is a recent graduate of the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry. He will be volunteering in the restorative area at the CDA Cares San Jose clinic.
“We [dentists] are given great gifts and talents to bring light to our neighbors who need us, especially in these hard times,” Kim said. “We must give these gifts back to the community.”
Kim, who also participated in the CDA Cares Sacramento clinic, is an associate dentist in Turlock. He has been with the practice since 2012 and intends to set a precedent of volunteerism in his career – CDA Cares is allowing him to do that.
“Life is happening fast and getting busier each and every year. If I don't start giving back now, it will be even harder later on,” Kim said.
Even though he is new to dentistry, Kim is well aware of the fact that state budget cuts eliminated virtually all adult Denti-Cal benefits in 2009, impacting more than 3 million poor, disabled and elderly Californians.
“Even before the state budget cuts, there was a lot of need. But the amount of need escalated to a whole new level after those cuts. CDA Cares makes it easy for dental professionals to come together to help mitigate the challenges so many Californians face when trying to access dental care,” Kim said.
Barber, who has been recruiting oral surgery residents to volunteer in San Jose, says the clinics are a complete team effort.
“It shows a lot as far as the amount of time volunteers put into it,” Barber said. “The amount of people it takes is extraordinary to put on an event like this, from students to assistants to doctors. It shows how strong organized dentistry is and how willingly dental professionals give back. That is something good for new dentists to see and be a part of.”
For more information on CDA Cares and to learn more about how to get involved, visit cdafoundation.org/cdacares.