Bay Area/ San Jose/ Health & Lifestyle
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Published on May 22, 2023
Hundreds Receive Life-Changing Dental Care at Unprecedented Free Clinic in San JoseSource: Unsplash

Dental professionals and community volunteers came together over the weekend to staff a free dental clinic in San Jose, titled "Silicon Valley Happy Smiles," aimed at providing much-needed dental care to uninsured and underinsured citizens of Santa Clara County, California, and, in doing so, they transformed countless lives for the better; the clinic, which was hosted at the San Jose Convention Center from May 20 to 21, offered various services including dental cleanings, fillings, root canals, extractions and limited dentures, being capable of treating children, adults, and seniors according to NBC Bay Area.

The event, organized by the Santa Clara County Dental Foundation (SCCDF), sought to address the overwhelming demand for dental care in a county where there is a shortage of dental providers, and thus, poor oral health takes a significant toll on the community, negatively impacting academic, physical, socio-emotional, and economic aspects of residents' lives as KTVU reported. The foundation's president, Dr. John Pisacane, expressed the organization's dedication to increasing dental care access across the county by supporting programs operated by volunteer dentists from the Santa Clara County Dental Society.

The volunteer dentists, tirelessly working at the 100-chair clinic, helped create profound transformations for the over 1,500 people who were estimated to be treated throughout the event, with dental professionals like Dr. Erin Beveridge conveying the rewarding nature of their work: "We’re seeing kids, adults, people of all ages; we’ll even be delivering some dentures today; this event really is for people in the community who don’t have access to this type of care; we’re doing a lot of smile transformations" Beveridge stated to KTVU.

Beyond the life-changing dental improvements for those who received treatment at the clinic, the event also had a positive impact on the overall health and well-being of the community; as Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, County Superintendent of Schools, explained, "Poor oral health affects children’s overall health, engagement in learning, school attendance, and their academic performance; this event is an opportunity for all family members to get the care that they need and support oral health for their children" Dewan told KTVU.

Fundraising efforts by the SCCDF board members played a crucial role in the success of the sprawling event, as board member Daniel Webster noted the board's commitment to providing care for those in need: “Our board here in Santa Clara County has fundraised for a year and a half to be able to treat over a thousand patients today, who otherwise wouldn’t have access to care" Webster mentioned in an NBC Bay Area interview.

While the dental services provided to the community members were free, the event cost an estimated $400,000 to cover expenses such as materials, equipment, Convention Center rental, and food per a report by KRON4; to finance the Silicon Valley Healthy Smiles event, the SCCDF relied on donations via their website, showcasing the deeply felt commitment from both the community and dental professionals who made the unprecedented free clinic possible.

As the event came to a close on May 21, the impact of the Silicon Valley Happy Smiles free dental clinic, the hard work of the dental professionals, and the dedication of the Santa Clara County Dental Foundation will resonate in the grateful hearts of its beneficiaries, offering healthier, happier, and brighter futures for the patients who were able to receive life-changing oral care according to SCCDF's event page.