Oral Health Information : Donated Dental Services Program
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
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
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:
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.
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
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.
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. Or email her at