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Oral Health Information : Donated Dental Services Program

(To obtain an application, please contact Brenda Goeden at telephone 1-605-224-4012 or 1-866-551-8023.)

Introduction

Hundreds of disabled and elderly citizens throughout South Dakota have seriously-neglected dental problems. Because of their disabilities or ages, many cannot work. South Dakota's Medicaid program provides only limited dental services and Medicare generally does not provide dental treatment. Some people do not qualify for assistance even if they are disabled. As a consequence many disabled and elderly people suffer because they cannot pay for the dental care they need.

The South Dakota Donated Dental Services (DDS) program was established in 1998 to help some of our most disadvantaged citizens: people who are disabled, elderly, or medically compromised. The dentists volunteering for DDS donate services in their own offices. Dental laboratories also contribute services. Since the DDS program was created, South Dakota dentists and dental labs have donated more that $2 million of free, comprehensive dental treatment to those who cannot afford treatment due to financial limitations associated with their age or disabilities.

Currently, nearly 180 dentists and more than 15 dental laboratories across South Dakota serve as volunteers for DDS.

Patient Qualifications

To qualify for the DDS program, a patient must:

  • Have a permanent disability or be elderly (over age 65). The disability may be physical or psychological in nature. It must be a permanent condition that prohibits or significantly limits employment.

  • They have no other means of obtaining needed dental care.

  • Need extensive (comprehensive) dental treatment, i.e. more than a check-up and cleaning.

The process for application and treatment under the DDS program is as follows:

Application Process

A prospective patient submits an application for donated dental care that is screened by telephone during an intake interview with the program coordinator, Brenda Goeden, who determines eligibility for the program. She contacts the appropriate social service agency or medical professional for further information if eligibility is questionable.

Matching Process

The applicant is then matched with a volunteer dentist when one becomes available in the applicant's area. The dentist receives a patient profile outlining the applicant's dental needs, health issues, and financial circumstances prior to accepting and treating the patient.

Treatment Process

The applicant receives a letter reporting the phone number and address of the volunteer dentist. The patient schedules an initial appointment with the dentist. After the initial examination, the program coordinator contacts the dentist and confirms that the patient was on time for the appointment and the dentist agrees to continue to see the patient. The program coordinator arranges for lab work and services by a specialist. During the span of the treatment, the dentist or patient may contact the coordinator at any time if either experiences any problems with the program.

Completion Process

After treatment is complete, the dentist reports the time involved in the case and value of the services provided. After completion of the DDS process, the patient is ineligible for future services, so the DDS program may treat other eligible persons.

DDS is always in need of dentists and labs willing to assist. Volunteers may elect to see one or more patients per year, and treatment is always at the dentist's discretion.

For more information on the South Dakota DDS program or to obtain an application, please contact Brenda Goeden at telephone 1-605-224-4012 or 1-866-551-8023.

SDDA News

Changes to the Dental Practice Act Proposed

The South Dakota Board of Dentistry is in the midst of a rewrite of the South Dakota Dental Practice Act. It has been nearly 20 years since the last major update to the Practice Act. The SDDA has formed a task force to review the Board's proposed changes and to provide insight and recommendations to both the Board of Dentistry and the SDDA Board of Trustees. A draft of the Board's proposed changes can be requested from the Board at:contactus@sdboardofdentistry.com