Every year, Americans spend almost $1.4 billion on teeth whitening procedures and products alone, but there are still people who can barely afford basic dental care. A clinic called Battle Ground in Nebraska is aiming to change that.
The all-volunteer staff of Battle Ground HealthCare provides limited medical and dental care to individuals ages 18-65 who can’t afford health coverage, but do qualify for the Affordable Care Act.
Because of Obamacare, many physician’s offices are so full that they’re not able to support the influx of new patients. Though the situation may eventually resolve, the new insurance policies are causing their own problems which free or inexpensive clinics like Battle Ground, New Heights and The Free Clinic of SW Washington are trying to mitigate.
Priority with dental care is given to ending pain. Patients are given dental x-rays and general dental assessments then given a treatment plan. A second appointment addresses any minor procedures like tooth extraction of restorative care.
Major restorations like dentures and bridges are referred to Battle Ground’s partners in the area, who agree to provide free or inexpensive services. Dental cleanings may also be performed as needed.
Battle Ground’s goal is to hold at least two screening clinics a month, assessing 8-10 patients at each clinic. At the moment, they’re able to open about once a week for a four hour block of time. With more volunteers and dentists, they could open every day of the week.
Many of the current volunteers are retired dentists who are excited to help patients in a field that they love, while others are donating time while maintaining a paying patient load elsewhere.
Right now, there are 80 volunteers total, and they’re seeking 15 more for the dental clinic, including receptionists, schedulers, assistants, hygienists and dentists. Anyone who can use a computer and speak on the phone is encouraged to contact the clinic.
Battle Ground doesn’t receive funding from the government and runs solely on independent donations.