August 2012

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Reason Smile A to Changing legislation and a tough economy can make finding dental care difficult for Dane County's low-income population. To meet the growing need, area health care providers are coming together and bringing awareness to the cause By Emily Leas Photographs courtesy of Wisconsin Dental Association "He just pulled it right out!" 11-year-old Huntur Kai of Janesville exclaims in disbe- lief, thrusting a small plastic bag contain- ing a tooth at his mother, Marsha. She laughs and tousles his hair as Dr. Jorge Torres-Guzman tells her how brave her son was. Torres-Guzman quickly recaps his 30-minute visit with Huntur, offering gentle advice to mother and son about brushing twice a day and trying to visit a dentist every six months. They are the standard reminders, but ones that aren't so easy to heed for a growing population of Wisconsinites. This reality was on full display June 30, Wisconsin Dental Association Foundation. The two-day event, held at the Alliant Energy Convention Center this year and annually in cities around Wisconsin, fo- cused on providing free dental care with a high priority on treating uninsured or Medicaid patients dealing with pain or infections. It's here that the Kais waited in line for tur a high five before disappearing behind screens concealing about 20 dental chairs filled with more pediatric patients. This particular MOM event, with 200 chairs and over 1,810 volunteers, is the largest held in the U.S. thanks in part to local chair Dr. Allison Dowd. "I've coordinated the pediatric areas of where Torres-Guzman was one of 395 dentists from around the state (and just one of the many local dentists) volunteer- ing at Mission of Mercy, a program of the 54 BRAVA Magazine August 2012 nearly two and a half hours to nab an ap- pointment. They are just two of the 3,595 Madison-area residents who took advan- tage of the $1.75 million worth of donated care. Huntur's tooth extraction was one of 2,822 that happened during the event, along with 1,205 cleanings, 2,657 fillings and 80 root canals. It was work that keeps dentists like Torres-Guzman busy. So with a smile, he shakes Marsha's hand and gives Hun- the other MOM events in Wisconsin and I really wanted to bring it to the legislators' backyard," she says. Normally, Dowd can be found at Chil- dren's Dental Center in Middleton. To- day she bounces between each area of the convention center filled with people awaiting a range of services: Anesthesia, extractions, pediatrics, cleanings, fillings, an on-site lab where partial dentures are created and a sterilization area for the hundreds of donated instruments.

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