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Dental Lifeline Network hits milestone, seeks volunteers

October 12, 2015

By Michelle Manchir

Photo of Dr. David Gershenzon with Donated Dental Services program patient, Jesse
Bright smiles: Dr. David Gershenzon, a volunteer with Dental Lifeline Network, poses for a photo with Donated Dental Services program patient, Jesse.
Dental Lifeline Network, a national dental nonprofit, is renewing its call for volunteers.

In September, the nonprofit exceeded $300 million in dental services donated since it started 30 years ago. Recipients of services are people with disabilities and people who are elderly or medically fragile with no other access to dental care.

The nonprofit wants recruit more dentists for its Donated Dental Services program, which has a patient waitlist of more than 17,000.

“The success of the DDS program is due to the tremendous generosity of our 15,000 volunteer dentists and 3,700 labs that donate comprehensive dental therapies to people in critical need of care,” said Fred Leviton, Dental Lifeline Network president. “Many thousands of people in the U.S. suffer from painful dental conditions including serious decay and advanced periodontal disease, and cannot eat normally. Too often, they cannot get life-saving medical treatment because of dental infections. Their lives literally are transformed through the safety net provided by DDS volunteers.”

To amplify recruitment, the ADA worked with Dental Lifeline Network earlier this year to produce a public service video inviting more dentists to become volunteers.

The 3-and-a-half-minute video is available at ADA.org/en/member-center/volunteer-opportunities or DentalLifeline.org. It features three patients who have benefited from the work of volunteers, and also volunteer dentists, including Chicago dentist Dr. David Gershenzon.

“It’s really meaningful to me to see the look on a patient’s face after they’ve completed treatment and you’ve really helped improve their lives,” Dr. Gershenzon comments in the video, adding, “This is a call to action on my fellow professionals: DDS doesn’t require a lot of time. You can see one patient a year or you can see as many as you want.”

DDS patients are prescreened for eligibility. The DDS volunteer reviews the patient profile in advance to decide whether to accept or decline the case, sees the patient in his or her own office, determines the treatment plan and never pays lab costs. No extra paperwork is required.

A DDS coordinator ensures that the patient arrives on time for appointments, arranges for assistance from specialists and labs and serves as the liaison between the office staff and the patient.

Volunteer needs vary from state to state and include both general dentists and specialists. To find out in what areas volunteers are most needed, visit DentalLifeline.org and click on “Volunteer” and then “Volunteer Now.”

Since DLN began in 1974, it has grown through collaboration with state dental associations and national strategic partners. Funding to support the volunteers comes from a variety of sources including the American Dental Association, state governments, foundations, the dental trade industry, corporate and individual donors and some state Delta Dental plans, according to the organization.

For information to become a volunteer dentist or laboratory or to make a donation, please visit DentalLifeline.org or call 888-471-6334.