Free clinic receives grant

Published 7:39 pm Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Western Tidewater Free Clinic will be bringing more smiles to more patients courtesy of the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation, which recently provided more than $900,000 in grants to the clinic and 28 other Virginia nonprofits.

The free clinic got $5,000 from the foundation, Executive Director Miriam Beiler said. The money will provide about 20 full sets of dentures — either an upper or a lower plate — and about 25 partials, Beiler said.

“It’s hard to give a precise number on how many patients will be served with that,” Beiler said, noting it’s impossible to predict how many full or partial plates the patients may need. “It will help a lot of people.”

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The free clinic provides health and dental services to patients ages 19 to 64 who are uninsured and have incomes at less than twice the federal poverty level.

“Dentures are so important to overall health,” Beiler said. “They improve a person’s ability to chew, to eat more nutritious foods and to speak more clearly. The ability to chew has a big impact on nutritional and digestive health of a patient.

“It also improves a person’s self-esteem, confidence and employability,” Beiler continued. “It’s more difficult to get a job if you don’t have any teeth. They’re not just cosmetic; they really do have a big impact on a person’s life.”

Twenty-four Virginia community and free clinics and the health foundations received grants totaling $515,500 from Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation to improve access to dental care for Virginians who are either under- or uninsured.

The grants will provide for dental supplies and equipment, dental services, delivery of care, dentures and mobile dental equipment for rural areas.

In addition, five universities and nonprofit organizations received grants for oral health education and expansion of care through scholarships for aspiring health professionals.

“Our challenge is to find ways to make the biggest impact on improving Virginians’ oral, and thus whole body, health,” said George A. Levicki, president and chief executive officer of the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation. “By providing much-needed funding, these organizations are in a better position to serve the oral health needs of their communities. We are delighted at the progress we are seeing.”