The rewards of volunteering with Dental Lifeline Network

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Blogger Giancarlo Ghisalberti, D.M.D., is a 2010 graduate of Rutgers School of Dental Medicine. He is in private practice in North Bergen, New Jersey, with his father and brother. Dr. Ghisalberti serves as the District 4 representative on the ADA New Dentist Committee and the committee’s liaison to the ADA Council on Membership. Dr. Ghisalberti is the president of the Hudson County Dental Society and serves on numerous New Jersey Dental Association councils and committees.

I began working with Dental Lifeline Network about four years ago. I was introduced into the program by my father who has been a volunteer for many years.

One of my Dental Lifeline Network patients was an elderly woman who had been to many other offices without success. She had numerous health challenges and was receiving treatment for cancer. She was also on a minimal fixed income with Social Security benefits and unable to afford the dental care she needed. In addition to the challenges she faced, she was unable to drive and relied on other transport to bring her to each appointment. 

Upon arrival at our office, I learned she had a moderate fear of dentistry and was in severe need of dental care. She understood she had multiple infections and severe periodontal disease and would need multiple extractions along with prosthesis. We began treatment, seeing her weekly over the course of a couple months. Finally, on delivery day of both her upper and lower partial dentures, she was in shock. Our patient, who traveled close to an hour each way with traffic, was finally going home with a beautiful smile.

During our post-op visits, I would learn that she was able to eat her favorite food again, talk to her friends without a mask on and smile for her grandchildren. She went on to leave a wonderful review on Google for us, refer multiple patients to our office and, most importantly, maintain excellent oral hygiene and a healthy oral cavity. 

The story of this patient is not out of the ordinary for my Dental Lifeline Network patients. As dentists, our most rewarding feeling is when a patient is smiling, chewing well and maintaining a healthy mouth. Following up with her for her recall appointments has been a joy. She brightens the mood of the office with her contagious smile. Working with the network has been a pleasure for me and an extremely rewarding process to help those in need.

Dental Lifeline Network is a nonprofit that provides free, comprehensive dental care to people with disabilities, seniors and others in need of medically necessary care. Patients who are interested in receiving care can visit to apply.

More dentists are needed to volunteer. The network asks volunteers to take one patient each year. Dentists review the patient profile in advance, meet with the potential patient for a consult, choose whether to see or decline the patient, determine a treatment plan, see the patient in their office, never pay lab costs and complete minimal paperwork.

I encourage you to get involved by visiting the link above.

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