Massachusetts Dental Society Foundation Awards Grants to Berkshire County Oral Health Programs

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SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass.—December 12, 2018—The Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) Foundation has awarded a total of more than $75,000 in “Expanding Access to Dental Care” grants to four organizations in Massachusetts, including two in Berkshire County. The goal of the grants is to improve the oral health of residents of the Commonwealth by supporting sustainable programs that improve access to dental care.

Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires (VIM) in Great Barrington received a $16,000 grant to fund additional dental hygienist hours to support the all-volunteer dentists in its free dental clinic. VIM provides access to free, comprehensive health care for adults in the Berkshire region who are income-qualified and uninsured or underinsured. VIM’s services are provided by volunteer clinicians—including dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants—who are supported by a small paid staff. Services range from routine cleaning to complicated tooth extractions, bridges, and full dentures. Since 2004, VIM has served its patients with more than 12,700 dental visits.

VIM’s dental program is the fastest growing of its services. Some patients have never seen a dentist or haven’t had care in years, and many require extensive treatment plans carried out over several months. VIM expects to treat an additional 200 patients in the upcoming year.

“Relying on both retired and still-practicing dentists, VIM is dedicated to keeping up with increasing patient numbers,” said VIM Berkshires Dental Practice Manager Whitney Smith. “This funding for expanded hours for a hygienist will help VIM continue to meet its commitment to provide free care for qualified individuals and allow the volunteer dentists to focus on developing treatment plans and caring for our patients.”

MDS Foundation Chair Dr. Robert Lewando said, “Because of the generosity of MDS members and their desire to support an active Foundation, we are able to assist organizations like Hillcrest Dental Care and VIM Berkshires in their efforts to improve the overall health of many Massachusetts residents who ordinarily might not receive care. It is our hope that the Foundation will continue to grow so we can help sponsor additional services that will most benefit communities in need.”