WISCONSINREPORT.COM (07/21/08) - A dedicated team of 517 volunteer Wisconsin Dental Association dentists have provided free, comprehensive oral health care, valued at more than 4.25 million dollars, to 1,726 disabled, senior, poor and uninsured state residents during the first 10 years of the WDA Foundation’s Donated Dental Services program. Nearly $1 million of that care was delivered in its record-setting 2007 – 2008 fiscal year which ended June 30th.
DDS patients do not qualify for government assistance programs and cannot afford dental care, because a permanent disability, chronic illness or advanced age restricts their income-earning capability. The average DDS case requires extensive dental work, usually including bridges, crowns or dentures, and today is valued at more than $2,900.
Since 1998, DDS patients have been selected on the basis of an application that helps identify financial need and a personal phone interview with a referral coordinator. The DDS candidate then visits a volunteer dentist who assesses the individual’s dental needs and decides whether to accept the financial and clinical responsibilities of providing comprehensive dental care for the individual.
Members of the state Legislature worked with then Gov. Tommy Thompson to initially provide financial support for non-clinical DDS administrative costs at $40,000 annually through the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services (now the Department of Health Services).
Since 2006, the state budget has included $60,000 annually to help increase DDS staff capacity so a growing number of eligible patients can be matched with WDA member dentists willing to donate their time, financial resources and professional expertise.
For every one dollar in state funds designated to program administration, participating dentists donate an average of nine dollars in clinical expertise, treatment and materials. In addition, 115 dental laboratories have donated more than $342,000 in supplies and services in the fabrication of bridges, crowns and dentures during the past 10 years.
WDA Insurance Programs Inc. and Delta Dental of Wisconsin have been invaluable in providing additional financial support for non-clinical administrative and lab costs not covered by the state grant.
People with physical or developmental disabilities often cannot care for their oral health and have difficulties getting treatment. Their problems are exacerbated, because they often lack the financial means but do not qualify for public assistance. The DDS program helps restore patients’ oral health and improve their oral hygiene and self-esteem.
For more information on the DDS program, residents of Dodge, Fond du Lac, Jefferson, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties should contact Referral Coordinator Julie Wilk at 888-338-6852 or email@example.com. Individuals living in all other Wisconsin counties should contact Referral Coordinator Bonnie Townsend at 866-812-9840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The WDA Foundation was created as the charitable arm of the Wisconsin Dental Association in 1957. A qualified, tax-exempt corporation, the foundation provides scholarships to dental and dental hygiene students attending accredited schools in Wisconsin. It also gives financial support to projects providing dental care to the underserved and other dental-related philanthropic endeavors. The foundation also administers the Donated Dental Services program.
Established in 1870, the WDA is headquartered in West Allis. With more than 2,900 members statewide, the WDA represents the vast majority of practicing dentists in Wisconsin. Its members are committed to promoting professional excellence and quality oral health care.
The WDA is one of 53 constituent (state-territorial) dental societies of the American Dental Association - the largest and oldest national dental association in the world.