Members of the Montana Dental Association offers two access-to-care programs designed to provide free dental care to persons who are unable to obtain care. MDA dentists and their staff generously devote their time and skills to these programs for Montana children and adults who might not otherwise have access to quality dental care.
Hundreds of disabled and elderly citizens throughout Montana have seriously-neglected dental problems. Because of their disabilities or ages, many cannot work.. Montana’s Medicaid program provides only limited dental services and Medicare generally does not provide dental treatment. Some people do not qualify for assistance even if they are disabled. As a consequence many disabled and elderly people suffer because they cannot pay for the dental care they need.
The Montana Donated Dental Services (DDS) program was established in 1997 to help some of our most disadvantaged citizens: people who are disabled, elderly, or medically compromised. The dentists volunteering for DDS donate services in their own offices. Dental laboratories also contribute services. Since the DDS program was created, Montana dentists and dental labs have donated more that $1 million of free, comprehensive dental treatment to those who cannot afford treatment due to financial limitations associated with their age or disabilities.
Currently, nearly 150 dentists and more than 65 dental laboratories across Montana serve as volunteers for DDS. The Montana Dental Association donates office space for the program coordinator.
To qualify for the DDS program, a patient must:
A prospective patient submits an application for donated dental care that is screened by telephone during an intake interview with the program coordinator, Margaret Petrick, who determines eligibility for the program. She contacts the appropriate social service agency or medical professional for further information if eligibility is questionable.
The applicant is then matched with a volunteer dentist when one becomes available in the applicant's area. The dentist receives a patient profile outlining the applicant's dental needs, health issues, and financial circumstances prior to accepting and treating the patient.
The applicant receives a letter reporting the phone number and address of the volunteer dentist. The patient schedules an initial appointment with the dentist. After the initial examination, the program coordinator contacts the dentist and confirms that the patient was on time for the appointment and the dentist agrees to continue to see the patient. The program coordinator arranges for lab work and services by a specialist. During the span of the treatment, the dentist or patient may contact the coordinator at any time if either experiences any problems with the program.
After treatment is complete, the dentist reports the time involved in the case and value of the services provided. After completion of the DDS process, the patient is ineligible for future services, so the DDS program may treat other eligible persons.
DDS is always in need of dentists and labs willing to assist. Volunteers may elect to see one or more patients per year, and treatment is always at the dentist’s discretion.
For more information on the Montana DDS program or to obtain an application, please contact Margaret Petrick at telephone 1-406-449-9670 or 1-888-449-9670. Or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although overall public awareness of the importance of oral hygiene has increased significantly in recent years, there are many segments of the population, particularly those of lower socioeconomic status (the poor, low income families), for whom the cost of dental treatment is prohibitive. That's why each February the American Dental Association celebrates National Dental Health Month with the Give Kids a Smile! program that aims to provide oral health care to underserved children.
The first American Dental Association Give Kids a Smile! day on February 21, 2003, was a one-day event on which state and local dental societies, as well as individual dentists, organized activities to provide education and free services to children from low-income families. Since then in February, dentists and their staff have come together to focus the attention of media, lawmakers and the public on the number of children who do not have access to adequate oral health care.
Dentists volunteer their services to provide education, early diagnosis, and preventative treatment essential to establishing good oral health at an early age. Planned by local dental society groups, GKAS! events provide much-needed dental care for children and increase public awareness of oral health issues.
Montana dentists have provided free dental education and care each year in the GKAS program. If you are a dentist seeking to participate in this worthwhile event, please contact your local component society president or MDA at 800-257-4988 for details on how you can be part of the Give Kids a Smile! program.
Montana Dental Association
38 South Last Chance Gulch, Ste. 205
P.O. Box 1154
Helena, Montana 59624
800-257-4988 (In Montana only)
406-443-2061 (in the Helena area)