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February 23, 2010 | dlpmagazine.com web exclusive Just In Case initiative encourages NCOHF donations Dale Dental’s David Lesh leads NCOHF initiative to create awareness of Toothfa
February 23, 2010 | dlpmagazine.com
Just In Case initiative encourages NCOHF donations
Dale Dental’s David Lesh leads NCOHF initiative to create awareness of Toothfairy program.
by Stan Goff
Even the smallest of donations, when added together, can come together to really help a cause. That’s part of what David Lesh is counting on with the Just In Case program that’s designed to create awareness and encourage donations to help support the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation (NCOHF) America’s Toothfairy program.
Lesh, a CDT who started Dale Dental in 2000 as a high-tech center-of-excellence focused on providing understructures exclusively to dental labs, is using his presence in the lab industry to help create a greater awareness for the NCOHF program designed to ensure all children have access to quality oral healthcare.
As Lesh notes, oftentimes labs may not understand how they can help needy children get the dental care they need because much of kids’ oral care issues may not directly involve the services provided by dental labs.
With the Just In Case program, labs can include the Toothfairy logo and any other information right on each and every case document to make sure dentists they work with are constantly reminded of the program and encouraged to contribute to the cause.
“It’s similar to when you go to the supermarket and upon check-out they ask you if you want to donate a dollar,” said Lesh, who is presenting the program at the 2010 CAL Lab group meeting in Chicago, the same week as the Chicago Dental Society’s Midwinter Meeting in late February. “It’s the same type of deal where we ask the labs to put the little icon on their prescriptions, and as the doctor is checking off the boxes on the prescription for the lab work, they can indicate if they’d like to donate a dollar or two dollars, or five dollars or whatever it is, with this case. That’s why it’s called Just in Case.”
While it may not rack up large sums of dollars, Lesh believes the awareness part of the program will be just as beneficial.
“It’s a multi-faceted deal. With doctors, contributing between 1, 5, 7 and 10 dollars per case, I don’t know that we’re going to raise millions of dollars every year,” he said. “And second of all there really is not a huge opportunity for labs to contribute donated services for kids. It’s not usually the primary need that these young kids have.
“With that being the case, I kind of see it as one more way to keep the America’s Toothfairy program in front of the eyes of the doctors on a regular basis. There are about 250,000 cases or so done every day in the U.S. and 100 percent of those start with a work order. So if the America’s Tooth Fairy logo is on there so the doctors have a chance to learn about it; the lab can provide some additional information etc., then we figure that’s a pretty good thing.”
In the beginning
A few years back Lesh met Dr. Cherilyn G. Sheets, the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Board of The Children’s Dental Center in Inglewood, Cal., a non-profit prototype dental center for providing multidisciplinary care to children of the working poor. Later, after writing about Donated Dental Services and other programs designed to help everyone who needs dental help on his blog, Lesh was contacted by the NCOHF to see if he’d be willing to work with dental labs to help spread the Toothfairy’s word. That is how Just In Case came about.
“I met Dr. Sheets through (Drs.) Gordon Christensen and Bill Yancey’s lab program and got to learn about the amazing things she was doing. She turned her childhood home into a free dental clinic, and it’s just a wonderful story and I was so taken aback by it.”
Lesh visited with Dr. Sheets, toured her clinic and was really impressed. He recalls wanting to get involved right away, but it just didn’t happen until his blog post attracted a request from the NCOHF.
“They said they were looking for someone to head and come up with a lab initiative, and so here we are,” he said. “A kid can’t help themselves; especially these kids. It’s sad.
“My goal is to try and use the broad reach that I have in the lab industry to help create awareness. It’s not easy. People don’t think they can help kids in a lab capacity. But anyway we can help with that is important.
This is so easy. It’s on your prescription.”
The doctor’s side
Dr. Ronald Goldstein, a longtime cosmetic dentist in Atlanta, has always gone out of his way to assist patients in need, including those who often could not afford the cost of their treatments. Additionally, he became a big supporter of NCOHF’s Tomorrow’s SMILES, a program aimed at high school students that provides oral health services to help promising at-risk students be better prepared for happy, healthy and productive futures.
“Tomorrow’s SMILES was set up to help deserving teens who need, but cannot afford a great smile,” he said. “It means so much to them to be able to not be discriminated against by their classmates because of the way their teeth look...and many do not smile anymore.”
Dr. Goldstein has been assisted in his cause by some generous labs, but would like to see more labs help out whenever possible. “Since dentists are volunteering to take care of these teens under the
Tomorrow’s SMILES Program, the missing link has been the laboratories,” he said. “I have been so appreciative of some of the laboratories who have stepped up to say they would take 2-3 cases and work with the dentist to help a deserving teen to be able to smile again.”
He has witnessed many instances where these teens’ quality of life and their attitudes have improved drastically after receiving the much-needed dental treatment.
“One of the quickest ways to turnaround a teen who is going the wrong way in life is to help give that person a great smile. I have seen so many kids whose personality has been so improved after treatment,” Dr. Goldstein said. “Grades have gone from D’s to A’s and kids that could not previously find employment have gained new insight on a career goal in their life.
“These are the type of patients that makes one feel good about choosing to become a dentist. Unfortunately, there are some many teens that have been dealt a poor hand in life with parents who could not afford to give them smiles that they need. It has been so fulfilling to play a role in helping these kids to find a new purpose and meaning to their life.”
Fern Ingber, NCOHF President and CEO, expressed her confidence in growing to reach all children who still wait for basic care.
“We started with only the visionary commitment of a small group of incredible clinical, corporate and academic leaders,” she said. “Many more caring corporations and individuals are now generously giving their talents and other resources. Who knows what we’ll be able to accomplish in another three or six years if more people will help America’s Toothfairy spread her wings?”
For more information on the programs and services of National Children’s Oral Health Foundation, visit www.AmericasToothfairy.org.
Stan Goff is executive editor for DLP. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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