The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation has been a partner of the Dental Lifeline Network for five years supporting the Donated Dental Services program.
Many Montanans with disabilities or who are elderly or medically fragile suffer from severe dental problems because they cannot afford care. Many cannot work and depend on public aid for health care. Medicare does not cover dental care and Montana’s Medicaid program provides limited dental benefits for adults. Those with disabilities or the aged or ill who can work typically earn enough to get by but expensive dental care is beyond their reach.
Through the Donated Dental Services (DDS) program, volunteer dentists and labs donate comprehensive care to restore the oral health of such individuals. DDS patients have extensive dental needs, and most require prostheses fabricated by labs. Unfortunately, many volunteer dentists use particular labs that don’t donate or only discount their fabrications. The dentists are willing to donate thousands of dollars of care but often we must pay for some of the lab fabrications or we cannot take advantage of the donated treatment available.
In fiscal year 2014, 94 Montanans received care, 49% from rural areas like Sidney, Jordan, Fairfield and Marion, MT.
The grant’s impact is best expressed by looking at some of the patients served.
Dina, age 60, of Hot Springs was a nurse for 27 years until a work-related injury resulted in head, neck and back trauma. While in recovery, her wheelchair rolled down a ramp and tipped, adding to her severe injuries. Unable to afford dental care and with a diet restricted to pureed food, Dina’s remaining teeth were painful, frequently abscessed, decayed and broken. Donated Dental Services (DDS) volunteer and general dentist Andrew Ordelheide, DDS, donated full upper and partial lower dentures with fabrications contributed by Lawson Dental Lab, an out-of-state lab which volunteers for DDS along with 51 Montana labs. Dr. Ordelheide extended his generosity by supporting a youth addiction program organized by Dina.
Others who have benefitted from the good work of the Dental Lifeline Network and generosity of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation:
• “Thanks for everything you did for me. I’ll show my appreciation with every smile I can give now. Thanks again so much.” – Douglass, a 54-year old disabled mechanic, who received full upper and lower dentures after having his 19 teeth extracted due to decay and breakage.
• “Thank you very much for the help you have given me. I’m able to eat again and am enjoying it. Thank you very much for everything.” – Denise, a 55-year old cancer survivor, whose chemotherapy resulted in significant tooth decay requiring the need for full upper and lower dentures.