CDA Cares returns to Central Valley

After a successful event in Ventura in April, CDA Cares returns to the Central Valley in October.

CDA Cares Stockton will take place Oct. 15-16 at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds and provide for a population in dire need of oral health care.

“The population is primarily an agriculture community so you have a high number of migrant and seasonal workers. And since the recession, Stockton has been a slow recovery area of high unemployment,” said Bruce Toy, DDS, CDA Cares Stockton co-chair. “Being that it is an agriculture-based community, there aren’t technical jobs so farming is the main employer. There is a high poverty rate and high unemployment.”

Toy knows the community well as he has practiced in Stockton for 35 years. He also has chaired the local Give Kids a Smile events and established a free local dental clinic of his own. In between that, he has made time to volunteer at seven of the CDA Cares events across the state. His fellow Stockton CDA Cares co-chair, Brad Louie, DDS, has volunteered at about the same number of CDA Cares events and has practiced in the area for 32 years himself. He shared Toy's sentiments about the population.

“It’s great that CDA Cares is coming to Stockton because the needs in the Central Valley are generally higher than other parts of the state,” Louie said. “All but emergency services in the adult Denti-Cal program were eliminated in 2009 and that hit this area hard. We don’t have a lot of industry in the Stockton area other than farming so we have a lot of people who don’t have resources for dental care. Essentially, the population of those in need here gets larger and larger.”

Louie, who currently serves on a local task force to increase access to care in the Stockton area, said CDA Cares is one of the most important things CDA does.

CDA Cares is a volunteer dental program hosted by the CDA Foundation that provides dental services at no charge to Californians who experience barriers to care. 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, which includes a well-functioning Denti-Cal program. Dental volunteers help relieve pain and infection by offering extractions, fillings, cleanings, root canals, oral health education and a limited number of dentures and temporary partial dentures.

At CDA Cares Ventura in April, volunteers delivered $1.5 million in charitable dental services to 1,884 people. To date, CDA Cares has provided $14.6 million in dental services to 17,965 people thanks to 14,312 volunteers.

“I always get more back than I give at CDA Cares,” said Louie, who has volunteered in the oral surgery, restorative and pediatric dentistry areas of CDA Cares events. “You get to participate in such a positive event and there are so many volunteers who are there for the same purpose. You relieve pain and infection, but you also restore dignity and hope for people. The patients feel like they have hope after getting treatment and can go out and get a job, make friends and restore relationships.”

To ensure these life-changing transformations happen at CDA Cares Stockton, Toy and Louie are working to raise funds in the community from large employer groups and corporate sponsors, and looking for in-kind donations such as food, water, compressors, forklifts and more.

“We are currently talking to the city and county government. The business community response has been positive. All the local Rotaries have donated and the local hospitals and insurance companies are considering support,” Louie said.

The event, of course, also needs dentists to volunteer.

“I’m sure dentists are aware of how many poor and underserved people are in this community and if they could volunteer half a day or a day that would be great,” Toy said. “Providing the care is awesome, we’re doing extractions, we’re relieving infection and pain, and patients are grateful and thankful they can receive these services at no charge. The denture patients who haven’t had teeth in a while are so happy to receive new teeth. They look at themselves in the mirror and they are so emotional and crying from being so happy.”

To help provide oral health care services to the large number of expected patients in Stockton, the CDA Foundation is currently seeking additional sponsors, as well as volunteer dental and health professionals to sign up for an entire day, rather than a shorter shift. Additionally, community volunteers are needed to assist with registration, clinic setup, data entry, escorting patients, interpreting and much more.

“CDA Cares would not be possible without the support of many volunteers, organizations and businesses from throughout the community and state that donate their time, talents, funds, food and supplies to help the many patients who cannot help themselves. We give a heartfelt thank you,” Toy said.

For more information and to register, visit cdafoundation.org/stockton.

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The CDA Foundation’s volunteer dental clinic, CDA Cares, provided $1.5 million in charitable dental services to 1,884 people during the April 16-17 event at the Ventura County Fairgrounds.