Dental Tribune USA

Chicago dentist provides free care one day each year

By Fred Michmershuizen, DTI
April 13, 2009

CHICAGO, IL, USA: Dr Theodore M. Siegel wanted to give back to the local community, but he didn’t want to just write a check to a charity. He wanted to do more. So he decided that for one day every year, he would open up his practice to all local patients and offer free services. Since his annual ‘Dentists With Heart’ event began in 2005, Siegel said, more than 2,000 patients have been treated with more than $1.25 million in care.

“For many, dentistry is an unaffordable luxury. Every year on Valentine’s Day, our office provides free dental care to the less fortunate people in our community,” said Dr Siegel, whose practice, Big Smile Dental, offers a wide variety of cosmetic dentistry services, including complete smile makeovers, teeth whitening, porcelain veneers and more.

For the most recent ‘Dentists With Heart’ charity day, people braved cold winds and snow and began lining up at midnight. By the time the practice opened its doors at 9 a.m., the line had began to wrap around the block. Patients received free cleanings, fillings, extractions, root canals and cosmetic procedures.

Siegel is not able to provide all this care by himself. Also offering free services were Dr Anu Garg, Dr Josephine Puleo and Dr Christopher Quick of Big Smile Dental, Dr Henry Lotsof of Ravenswood Dental Group at Methodist Hospital, Dr Gary Hosters of Norwood Park Periodontics and Dr David Hanson of Lincoln Park Institute. Other volunteers included students from the Harper College RDH program, plus hygienists, support staff and even patient volunteers.

“I would like to thank my family, my entire staff, our volunteers and our sponsors who insisted upon working without pay,” Dr Siegel said. “I am truly grateful to all of them for their passion, their help and their dedication to help those in need. Their hard work is an inspiration to everyone.”

Siegel expressed appreciation for the many individuals and companies that provided support. For the most recent event, supplies were donated by Patterson Dental, Kerr, Hu-Friedy, Top Quality Mfg., Vital RX Pharmacy, Ivoclar Vivadent, Larry Garrett and Frank Sasco. Several local restaurants provided catered food for patients and volunteers.

Siegel said that there are many people without medical insurance in Chicago and an even greater number without dental insurance. Siegel explained that he and his staff feel that dental care is a necessary service that should be available to everyone, even those who are unable to afford insurance. The practice’s goal is to raise awareness in hopes that it will be easier in the future for uninsured people to find a dentist in the Chicago area to help ease their tooth discomfort and disease.

“I truly feel blessed and proud to be able to help so many people in need,” Siegel said.

More information about the annual ‘Dentists With Heart’ charity event is available the Big Smile Dental Web site, www.bigsmiledental.com. For doctors who wish to set up a similar event in their own communities, Siegel had prepared and information packet. To receive the information, contact Dr Siegel directly at bigsmiledental@aol.com.

 

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