Dental Day Highlights Need for Affordable, Accessible Care

On Wednesday, October 9th, the UAB School of Dentistry hosted its first UAB Dentistry Cares Community Day, or simply Dental Day, as it came to be known in our office. For the event, a dedicated team of over 500 volunteers from the UAB Schools of Dentistry and Nursing, Cahaba Valley Health Care, and local dentists, health agencies and companies provided free services to more than 350 people. The UAB School of Dentistry coordinated the event with One Roof and Cahaba Valley Healthcare, a local non-profit dedicated to providing access to healthcare for underserved populations in the area.

This was the first year that UAB hosted such an event and the response from patients, participating member agencies, and volunteers has been overwhelmingly positive. Aside from a few hiccups due to the large number of participants, the clinic ran smoothly and volunteer dentists and students were able to treat everyone who showed up, including many walk-up patients that we did not want to turn away. By 9 AM, over 110 people registered for the clinic; the 250-patient goal was exceeded by noon. The services provided included cleanings, extractions, and restorations. Patients also received counseling about proactive and preventative oral health care, as well as medical history reviews, blood pressure checks, and oral cancer screenings. The clinic finally finished admitting patients shortly after 2 PM, and several of the volunteer dentists offered further services.

Dr. Conan Davis, chair of UAB Dentistry Cares and director of community collaborations, expressed to One Roof that he was extremely satisfied with how the clinic went, and that the school is already considering making it an annual event. Dr. Michael Reddy, Dean of the School of Dentistry, stated that the clinic is one of only a few like it in the country being held this year.  Dr. Reddy and Dr. Davis believe that the UAB community of health care professionals is obligated to serve the greater Birmingham community in the best way they know how, with access to affordable treatment.

According to Tyler Greer of UAB News, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that the majority of adults aged 20 to 64 who are living below the federal poverty level say their teeth are in only fair condition or worse.  Fewer than 50 percent of these adults have routine dental checkups, and in Alabama, Medicaid provides no dental coverage for adults, making access to care even more difficult for low income families. Dr. Reddy said that treatments for conditions requiring even minor dental work is practically inaccessible for families and individuals not covered by a private insurer.  Often, the only time they can see a dentist is at charitable events and clinics.  The School of Dentistry and Cahaba Valley Healthcare hope events like these with such large turnouts will highlight this lack of accessibility to basic care in our community.

We at One Roof were very honored to be given an opportunity to help provide care for clients of member agencies, and we will do all we can not only to ensure the continuation of the clinic, but to improve it as well. If you participated in the event, please send feedback to our office about your experience and ways to make it better next time. Thanks again for all you do!

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