Affordable Dentures & Implants will partner with the Brighter Way Dental Institute of Phoenix, Ariz, to deliver free dental implant, oral surgery, and prosthetic treatment to hundreds of US military veterans and homeless citizens. The network of affiliated dental practices expects to contribute about $3.25 million in pro bono implant and prosthetic services in 2017 alone. About 400 volunteers, including affiliated practice owners, dental technicians, and other auxiliary staff members, will travel from across the United States to Phoenix as part of the effort.
The program will take place during six 3-day sessions throughout 2017. The sessions will be facilitated by the Brighter Way Dental Institute at Central Arizona Shelter Services in Phoenix. Kris Volcheck, DDS, MBA, and Justin Moody, DDS, will oversee clinical care at each session. Last October, 12 Affordable Dentures & Implants affiliates participated in a successful pilot program, delivering free care estimated at $440,000.
“This program reflects our affiliates’ shared commitment to deliver tooth replacement care with dignity and respect to those who often have nowhere else to turn,” said Doug Brown, president and CEO of Affordable Care, the dental support organization affiliated with Affordable Dentures & Implants. “As a national dental support organization, we have a special opportunity to use our network size and resources to give back to underserved communities.”
Formerly known as the Central Arizona Shelter Services Dental Clinic for the Homeless, the Brighter Way Dental Institute provides comprehensive dental care and a dental home not only to homeless individuals but also to military veterans, many of whom do not receive dental benefits through the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
According to Affordable Dentures & Implants, its participation in the 2017 Brighter Way program will build upon a record year of giving back and volunteering. For example, more than 100 dentists, lab technicians, and business support staff gave their time at more than 20 Mission of Mercy pro bono events across the United States in 2016. Lab technicians also produced more than 700 partial dentures and other appliances at Mission of Mercy events during the year.
Also, Affordable Care renewed its annual contribution to the America’s Dentists Care Foundation and to more than 20 state-level Mission of Mercy organizations. Meanwhile, more than 200 dentists within the affiliated practice network have taken part in international volunteerism since 2014, including through a partner clinic in Guadalajara, Mexico, performing more than $5 million in implant surgery and related services in that time frame.
“Unfortunately, veterans are more likely to be homeless than the general population. They comprise approximately 10% of our homeless population. One of the greatest unmet needs of our homeless veterans is that of basic oral healthcare. Even if basic care were available, it still would be woefully lacking in its ability to treat those veterans who are edentulous. These men and women, who are often missing all of their teeth, are our family and community members,” said Volcheck, Brighter Way Dental Institute CEO and founder.
“Because they have no teeth and no smile, their health is poor and so is their self-esteem. For Brighter Way to be able to treat these patients who have served our nation in such a comprehensive is an honor,” said Volcheck. “Simply put, restoring these patients’ health and self-esteem by placing implant-based dentures is the very best possible care available. And these veterans should be getting our very best efforts.”
Tooth replacement solutions such as full-arch implant restorations like those performed at Brighter Way often are beyond the financial reach for those without dental insurance, according to Affordable Dentures & Implants. That’s why Affordable Dentures & Implants practice owners have historically elected to set everyday fees lower than insurance copays for the same treatment, the organization reports.
Furthermore, Affordable Dentures & Implants states, more people each year including new and experienced denture wearers are turning to dental implants as a more desired tooth replacement solution. Implants help to stop or slow bone loss in the jaw and restore more tooth function than dentures or other options, the organization says.
“The patients at Brighter Way have been absolutely amazing,” said Dr. Jase Hackney, a practice owner with Affordable Dentures & Implants in Tampa, Fla, who participated in the pilot pro bono session in October. “They’ve been very thankful when we finish. They want to shake our hand or give us a hug. It’s been very rewarding in that regard.”