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Michigan Dentist Provides Care for Underserved in His Community

December 1, 2014

A Jackson, Mich., dentist is one of thousands who each year open up their offices to those in need as part of Dentistry From The Heart, a worldwide nonprofit dedicated to providing free dental care to people who otherwise would not receive it.

The organization was founded 14 years ago by Dr. Vincent J. Monticciolo, an ADA member dentist who practices in New Port Richey, Fla. Now, more than 300 events are held annually throughout the world.

Dr. Scott Watterson – along with his father, Dr. Richard Watterson – provided care to about 55 patients in August during his second day-of-care event.

“Growing up, I was always inspired by my father’s work in missionary dentistry,” said Dr. Watterson. “When I started my own practice 16 years ago, I wanted to find a way to reach out to the most vulnerable populations in my community. Dentistry From The Heart had the structure I needed to create my own charitable event.”

Dr. Watterson’s first Dentistry From The Heart event was held in March 2013 at his practice, Watterson Family Dentistry. He advertised the event through local businesses and asked his patients to spread the word throughout the community.

Five volunteer dentists and a team of hygienists provided care to about 120 people. They were allowed to receive a cleaning, filling or extraction.

“The number of people who showed up that first year said a lot about the need in our community,” said Dr. Watterson. “I was very happy to help them.”

The need was so great, he noted, that many patients lined up outside the dental office overnight to receive care the following day.

“They really hung in there and waited, and every single one of them left happy,” Dr. Watterson said.

Because fewer people attended this year’s event, Dr. Watterson and his fellow volunteers were able to perform 75 procedures for approximately 55 patients, meaning patients were not limited to one procedure.

“This time we had a more steady flow of patients, which allowed us to spend a little more time with each patient,” he noted.

Dr. Watterson said he intends to soon host another Dentistry From The Heart event, but has not yet set a date.