Dental professionals from around the Rutland region are donating their time, resources, and expertise as they pair up with the United Way of Rutland County, Rutland Free Clinic and Vermont State Dental Society to offer Free Adult Dental Care Day on Saturday.
Rutland County residents over the age of 18 who are low-income, do not have medical or dental insurance and are unable to pay for needed dental health care will be eligible to receive free urgent dental procedures during the event.
“There is a huge need statewide for dental care,” said Nanci Gordon, executive director of the United Way of Rutland County, adding that many people simply do not have dental insurance available to them and if they do, it’s often very limited.
“Dental disease is so preventable,” she said.
This year marks Rutland’s fifth year participating in the statewide initiative, with an average turnout of more than 100 participants who utilize the services of the event each year.
Registration will begin at 7 a.m. at Grace Congregational Church in Fellowship Hall. To qualify for care, residents should bring a Vermont-issued form of identification, proof of income and a list of medical conditions.
Upon check-in and evaluation participants will be directed to one of the participating dental offices for completion of care where they will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis.
Focusing on urgent dental needs, Free Adult Dental Care Day procedures will include restorative work, broken teeth care, extractions and fillings, and is part of a statewide effort to provide quality dental care throughout the state.
“The ultimate goal of free dental day is, of course, to serve those without dental insurance who have a need for urgent care because of dental issues. What goes on behind the scenes to reach that goal is the result of willing volunteers in our community,” said Tony Morgan, executive director of the Rutland Free Clinic.
Referring to the event as “a day of community volunteering and collaboration,” Morgan said that thousands of dollars in services are provided free of charge each year in this single day.
In addition to providing dental services, the event also aims to increase dental education, with oral care supplies such as floss and toothpaste available to patients.
“Dental professionals in the community and their willingness to give a full day to this event is extraordinary,” he said. “Dental Day is successful because everyone does their piece so well.”
This year, half a dozen dentists will be participating, along with three hygienists and countless other support staff who will be on hand to help things run smoothly. Local participating dental professionals include the following doctors: Ted Polgar, Lance Smagalski, Eric Holmgren, Judith Fisch, Julie Pratt, Frank D’Auria, Jim Wright, Michael Dick and Sonia Yau.
“It’s important to give back to the community and help those in need,” said Fisch, of Heaton and Fisch Dental Associates, who has volunteered at the event for the past four years.
Fisch said she rallies Rutland dentists to participate each year. Local professionals are always eager to help and those who cannot lend their services on the dental day often offer supplies or donations, she said.
“It’s a real community event,” she said.