Michigan dentists, technicians donate dentures at inaugural Heaven D.E.N.T. event over the weekend.

February 1, 2012

The power of a dental restoration to change someone's life is undeniable. New teeth, be they crowns, implants or dentures can give patients confidence, bring back their ability to enjoy food and of course give them a reason to smile. It's in this spirit that a group of Michigan dentists, technicians and staff members (with additional support from Ivoclar Vivadent) put together the inaugural Heaven D.E.N.T.

The power of a dental restoration to change someone's life is undeniable. New teeth, be they crowns, implants or dentures can give patients confidence, bring back their ability to enjoy food and of course give them a reason to smile. It's in this spirit that a group of Michigan dentists, technicians and staff members (with additional support from Ivoclar Vivadent) put together the inaugural Heaven D.E.N.T. (Delighting the Edentulous with New Teeth) program this past weekend. The program provided 20 edentulous patients with new complete dentures which were created from start to finish over the course of just two days.

Created by Dr. David Swan of Traverse Dental Associates and Doug Baker of D.H. Baker Dental Laboratory, the program delivered the free care to local patients in need. Ivoclar Vivadent stepped in as a sponsor to help the program work and a number of other dentists and lab technicians helped create the dentures. With so much teamwork they were able to provide 20 sets of dentures over the course of just two days. It's programs such as this that show the heart of the dental industry and the power dentists and technicians have to change people's lives for the better. Everyone involved in the Heaven D.E.N.T. program should be proud of what they accomplished. Hopefully the plan to make this an annual event will come to fruition with an even bigger group of patients delighted to have new teeth next year.

Read on for the complete story of the Heaven D.E.N.T. program:

Little Piece Of Dental Heaven

Leading Dental Professionals Ban Together To Provide Dentures For the Economically Disadvantaged

Traverse City, MI– It's the gift that will keep on giving. A collaborative venture involving a free local clinic, dentists, and dental suppliers provided 20 uninsured individuals with the gift of dentures the weekend of January 28th and 29th, 2012. The event was held at Traverse Dental Associates located in Northern Michigan. Recognizing the extensive need for dentures to improve the lives of their edentulous patients, David Swan, DDS, and Doug Baker, founder of D.H. Baker Dental Laboratory, banded together with a number of well-established dental professionals to benefit Traverse Health Clinic patients with a free denture weekend.

“This is an effective way to deliver pro bono services to treat the specific needs of a special population,” says David Swan, DDS. “The positive response to this appeal by those within our profession speaks to the heart for service, the reason that many of us entered the dental field in the first place.” Swan’s practice, Traverse Dental Associates, is one of 38 local dental practices who provide dental services to CHAP patients of Traverse Clinic free of charge. After Dr. Lynn Swann, current medical director of the non-profit clinic, apprised her husband that patient dental needs have proven greater than clinic resources, Swan and Baker’s collaboration culminated in Heaven D.E.N.T. (Delighting the Edentulous with New Teeth).

Originally intended for the Christmas holidays sporting the slogan "All I want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth," Heaven D.E.N.T. immediately attracted a bevy of leading national and local dental professionals and organizations eager to donate their time and resources to individuals in need of dental care. Ivoclar Vivadent, an international supplier of dental materials, is proud to be one of the many sponsors. "We are glad to be involved. If we can do something good for the industry and improve a patient's quality of life, and we have the resources available, then we will gladly do it," says Wayne Ledford, Ivoclar Vivadent's Vice-President of Laboratory Sales.

Other collaborators include experienced dental technicians Kathy Weber of Starcast Dental Lab, Gary Rushton of Rushton Dental Lab, Kurt Schumacher of Schumacher Dental Laboratory, Randy Juneau of D.H. Baker Dental Laboratory, members of Traverse Dental Associates, and six other dentist volunteers recruited by Dr. Swan.

Typically a two-week process, Heaven D.E.N.T. provided patients with dentures in a single weekend. Basic examinations and the denture preparation procedure took place on day one, while the denture prosthesis, final adjustments and home-care instructions were delivered the following day. Swan and Baker hope to make Heaven D.E.N.T. an annual event.

“There is such a need in our communities today to help those less fortunate,” Doug Baker explains. “As dental technicians, we are happy to support our community and get involved. This wonderful profession gives us the opportunity to restore permanent smiles with the hope of improving lives.”

Begun in 1975 and supported with private donations, grants, and state and local funding designated for indigent care, Traverse Health Clinic is a non-profit organization that has been providing access to basic and affordable healthcare for individuals living below 201% of the poverty level throughout three counties in Northern Michigan. Consisting of 39 employees with over 500 volunteer providers, the clinic serves more than 2,500 economically disadvantaged individuals each month by providing access to primary care, specialty, vision, dental, and mental health services.

“This outreach is very important for those Traverse Health Clinic CHAP patients who are a part of this weekend because they are people who have ‘fallen through the cracks’ and are in great need of a safety net. It is also important to note that our CHAP program allows people to receive access to dental services which are integrated with physical health services, as this is very important for the individual’s overall health,” states Sherri Fenton, Development and Marketing Director for Traverse Health Clinic. “Through the generosity of many collaborating providers involved in this program, we are thrilled to be able to bring health and hope for a brighter future to many people with tremendous needs.”