Marin Community Clinics Dental Patient Road to Dental Health
By Connie Kadera, DDS, Chief Dental Officer
Seven years ago, Maria came to see me at our San Rafael Dental Clinic to arrange for dental care for her four children. When I saw Maria smile, it was clear that she needed major dental work. But she was putting her needs last because she could not afford more dental expenses.
Initially, I saw her son Carlos, who was three years old at the time. He had extreme dental decay and his dental practices were less than ideal. It is not always easy treating a very young child, but we were successful. The
extensive treatments, nutrition counseling, fluoride applications, and oral hygiene education made a big difference. Seven years later, he has no cavities and practices good oral hygiene!
“When I first came to the Dental Clinic, I was scared,” says Carlos, now 10 years old. “But after a year, Dr. Kadera became friends with my mom and I was less scared. If I had to go to the dentist now, I would be happy because they are helping me.”
Over time, Maria’s other children came to the Dental Clinic. The kids were on their way to life-long dental health.
Mom gets much-needed care too
Maria suffered from tooth pain and had difficulty chewing food because of her missing teeth. After much encouragement on our part, Maria began coming to the Clinic for teeth extractions and fillings, paying for the care using our sliding fee scale. Her last step was to have dentures made, but she indicated she could not afford them. (Dentures are not a covered service.)
A few months later, she came back and proudly told us that she could pay for the dentures – her children had given her the money as a Christmas gift! Today, Maria smiles with more confidence, can eat, no longer has dental pain – and continues to bring her children for care.
More than dental care
Marin Community Clinics has become the patient-centered health home for many of our patients. When patients’ needs extend beyond oral health, dentists like me have the wonderful opportunity to refer them to other services and improve their lives as a whole.
Maria is one example. At the time, the day-to-day stress and temporarily absent father was hard on one of the children, so we were able to refer Maria and the child to our social worker for counseling services – also with success. He eventually became the same smiling and outgoing boy he was before.
“Marin Community Clinics has helped us a lot,” Maria concluded. “I got my teeth fixed and we have used the medical services, the pharmacy, the lab, and counseling services. Everything is good.”
For more information about the Dental Program, visit www.marinclinic.org/health-care-services/dental-services