#NewJersey: Community businesses join #dentists to provide free #dental work (via @catamaranmedia)

3 Apr

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Sam Kotelnicki couldn’t afford to have a problem tooth extracted. He said he didn’t have dental insurance through his current employer, and he said he couldn’t get coverage under the federal Affordable Healthcare Act.

“I have a cap with a cavity underneath it,” Kotelnicki said. “I hope it’s not too complicated to pull.”

Beside him, his son’s girlfriend, Kate Maslanka, also hoped to have a tooth pulled.

“I chipped it on a Reese’s cup,” Maslanka. She smiled ruefully. “It was just soft chocolate, and I broke my tooth.”

About 80 people braved a chilly rain to join Maslanka and Kotelnicki at Sunshine Dentistry’s annual free event, “Dentistry from the Heart,” an event organized by Dr. Eric Thomas, owner, and supported by businesses through the area.

On that day, Thomas and other professionals provided patients with a free extraction, filling or cleaning. There were also hygienists, dental assistants and other dental professionals donating time and resources to give a day’s worth of free dental care to as many residents as possible.

Stephanie Thomas, CFO of Sunshine Dentistry, said she and her husband joined the annual nationwide drive to provide a day of free dental work to area residents three years ago as a way to give back to the community.

“There are probably 100 million people nationwide that don’t have dental insurance,” Stephanie Thomas said. “In Cape May County, the number of people without dental insurance is climbing.”

Dr. Thomas said that “Dentistry from the Heart” was a way to bring the community together. “Dr. Michael Toohey and his full staff from East Coast Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons also volunteered the day to help support surgical extractions,” he said.

But the day wouldn’t have happened without all of the other sponsors, Stephanie Thomas said.

“We have a tent, two heaters, refreshments,” she said. “We even have a Porta-Potty. And Christ Gospel donated the chairs for the day.”

All total, Stephanie Thomas said, including dental work, staffing, materials and volunteer labor, the day was worth about $25,000 to the 80 residents who came to the event.

“But I don’t think we can really put a value on helping the community,” she said. “Because it not only helps the residents, it pulls the community together.”

Sponsors of the event include: Advantage Rentals, Bellevue Tavern, Cape Bank, Cape May Technical School, Caprioni Porta-Potty, Christ Gospel Church, Coltene Whaledent, Crosstex, Dentsply Caulk, Dr. Michael R. Toohey, Glove World, Henry Schein Dental, Hu-Friedy, McDonalds, Medicom, MicroFlex, Middle Township School District, Reef Family Pharmacy, Septodont, Smart Practice, Meltzer and Sons, Staples, Sturdy Savings Bank, Sultron Healthcare, Total Care, and Wawa Food Market.

As a cold rain pattered the tent, Kate Maslanka rubbed her hands together as she waited her turn for a tooth extraction. “I don’t think I’ll wait a year for this to happen again,” she said. “I hope to get dental insurance, so I don’t have to wait until next year.”

“Dentistry from the Heart” began in 2001 and is part of a nationwide program that provides free dental work for people in need. Since its inception, “Dentistry from the Heart” has grown to include more than 200 events nationwide and has provided more than 80,000 people with an estimated $9 million in free dental care services.

Source: http://www.shorenewstoday.com/middle_township/community-businesses-join-dentists-to-provide-free-dental-work/article_20ce30b2-d86f-11e4-9a35-531d48f2ba87.html

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