While some people might finish out their summer by relaxing at the beach, a team camped out at Cal Expo fairgrounds in Sacramento in pursuit of free dental care.
Six residents accompanied by staff members Lani Borgwardt and Colleen McDermott, along with our fabulous volunteer Dianne Maxon, arrived at 2 a.m. Aug. 24 to find 1,000 people lined up waiting for services at the California Dental Association event.
Volunteer dentists and hygienists, expecting 1,400 people over two days, did their best to keep things moving. Our residents received cleanings and fillings; one was ecstatic to be fitted for dentures after needing them for more than a year.
“I’m learning how to smile again,” said Pamela, who got dentures made in a new process that allows for quicker, less customized fitting. “I’m not so self-conscious and my quality of living is definitely better.”
The Sacramento trip was the latest chapter in a project to address oral health needs for homeless residents at Homeward Bound of Marin, where a survey last year found more than 300 people needing treatment.
The Oral Health Project so far has received help from two Marin dentists offering pro bono services and helped connect residents with other resources for care.
Another six residents went this week to the University of the Pacific dental campus in San Francisco, with all accepted to receive free dentures. The process will take five return visits, but they should have their new teeth for Thanksgiving.
In total, almost 30 residents have received help since the project began last year. We’re making headway in restoring smiles for people transitioning out of homelessness. If you’d like to get involved, please contact Colleen McDermott at 415-382-3363 x217.