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Providing Care Now

Providing care now to people suffering with untreated dental disease

The New Mexico Dental Association through its charitable foundation runs programs where dentists can directly provide care to those who are suffering from lack of dental care today.  Member dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, like you, generously give back to their communities through philanthropic programs, providing in excess of $1.42 million in documented free care in 2014.

Mission of Mercy – In 2014, our fourth Mission of Mercy was held in Sandoval County, and delivered over $1 million in free care to 1055 patients. Since 2010, our 4 Mission of Mercy events have provided $4.2 million in donated care to 5700 New Mexicans.  Missions of Mercy events across America have served more than 143,000 patients, providing nearly $90 million in free services since 2000, according to the America's Dentists Care Foundation.

Donated Dental Services-The “DDS” program provided over $400,000 of in-office, donated care to elderly, disabled or medically compromised patients in their home communities throughout New Mexico.  Since 2001, dental offices and dental labs have provided free comprehensive dental solutions for 1049 patients worth more than 4.3 million dollars.

Give Kids A Smile® - Many dental offices throughout the state provide dental health education, preventive services and free care to children in schools or their own offices during the month of February.  Each year, approximately 450,000 children across America benefit from 1,500 Give Kids A Smile events nationwide.

These local programs, along with the free and discounted care that individual dentists provide every day, aggregate nationally into an estimated $2.6 billion per year.

The New Mexico Dental Association has established a Committee on Special Needs Dentistry made up of various stakeholders, including the Department of Health, to work on solutions to serve New Mexico’s vulnerable special needs population.  The committee will develop programs to educate dental team members on treatment and management techniques to serve those with developmental and physical challenges.  The Association, through the Committee, will advocate for improved access to offices and facilities that can provide this specialized care.

National initiatives supported by the New Mexico Dental Association

• Reduce the number of people who visit the emergency room for dental conditions (PDF), by referring them to community health centers or private dental practices, where they can receive proper dental care. People suffering from dental pain need somewhere to turn for help. Frequently the place they turn is the emergency room of their local hospital. According to the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the number of dental ER visits in the U.S. increased from 1.1 million in 2000 to 2.1 million in 2010. A separate study shows that in 2009, dental caries (the disease that causes cavities) and abscesses alone – almost entirely preventable conditions – accounted for nearly 80 percent of dental-related ER visits. While emergency rooms can provide pain relief and treat infection, few hospitals have dentists on staff so they aren't able to provide comprehensive dental care. Moving patients with dental pain out of the ER and into the dental chair ensures that they get the right care at the right place. Read the ADA research brief (PDF) about the increase in dental-related emergency department visits. Read about a strategy adopted by a Maine hospital experiencing growing numbers of patients coming to the ER with dental pain.

ER Referral Models

• Expand access to care for the elderly in nursing homes. Approximately 1.3 million nursing home residents face the greatest barriers to accessing dental care of any population group. Federal law requires nursing home facilities to provide dental care to residents, including routine and emergency care. But delivering dental care to these patients has been problematic. Now, dentists across the country are adopting nursing homes in their communities using the existing public health safety net. It's an immediate and affordable solution for nursing home residents. Legislation currently before Congress (PDF) would provide grants to organizations that help coordinate free dental care to poor and disabled adults, including senior citizens.

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