Periodontists will offer a day of free dentistry to the uninsured
Drs. Rebecca and Fred Bye will host a Dentistry from the Heart event that it is part of a national program to provide dental work to the uninsured. (By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer)
But for many people, a simple grin doesn't come easily.
There is the embarrassment of discoloration and the pain caused by decay.
There are loose teeth and infections.
And there is the worry of how to pay the bills. For those with no dental insurance and limited income, good oral hygiene often becomes a luxury.
As periodontists, the Byes have seen firsthand the extremes of dental neglect.
They have donated their time and services to thousands of people at the annual Hagerstown Convoy of Hope and have offered assistance at a dental clinic in a remote section of Alaska.
Now, they are reaching out again to those in need by providing a day of free dental care services.
On Saturday, Feb. 18, the Byes will host their first Dentistry from the Heart — an event that is part of a national program that provides free dental work to people without insurance.
Services will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis at the offices of The Bye Center for Implants & Periodontics at the Sylvania Centre on Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 201. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and patients will be seen until 5 p.m.
Those receiving care will have a choice of a cleaning, filling or extraction, said Rebecca Bye. Services will be provided to adults 18 or older.
"We hope to target the working person who might be suffering with pain but cannot afford dental care," she said.
A total of four dentists and five hygienists will be volunteering their services for the day, she noted. They expect to treat 100 patients.
Dentistry from the Heart is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free dental care to those who need it, said Bye. It was started in 2001 and since its inception has grown to include more than 200 annual events nationwide.
"It has provided more than 60,000 people with an estimated $8 million in free dental care services," she noted.
The Byes were inspired to offer the program after visiting a dental office in Billings, Mt., last fall that had participated in Dentistry from the Heart.
"I was so impressed by the enthusiasm of their team," Rebecca Bye said. "Both our offices have similar values and a desire to help the community. So it was only natural that when we discovered Dentistry from the Heart, we immediately started to plan an event in our hometown."
The services provided by Dentistry from the Heart "not only help a patient's teeth and overall health, it gives them a renewed reason to smile," Bye said.
She does encourage patients to arrive early, dress appropriately for the weather and to bring chairs, blankets, water and snacks as they will be waiting outdoors to be seen.
This is the first time The Bye Center has offered Dentistry from the Heart. "But it will not be our last," Bye shared. "This is the sort of outreach that comes complete with improved smiles, relief from suffering and a warm sense of gratitude that pervades."
The local offering has been made possible, Bye said, thanks to community sponsors who have contributed toward advertising, supplies and services.
If you go ...
WHAT: Dentistry from the Heart
WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 18, registration begins at 8 a.m. and patients will be seen until 5 p.m.; first-come, first-served basis
WHERE: The Bye Center for Implants & Periodontics at the Sylvania Centre, 3424 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 201, Hagerstown
CONTACT: Call 301-739-6868 or go to DentistryFromtheHeart.org
MORE: Services will be provided to adults 18 or older.