PLATTSBURGH — Making ends meet may not always translate into dental care for many North Country residents.
But locals' smiles can be brighter and definitely pain-free thanks to a unique partnership between New York University Dentistry–Henry Schein Cares Global Student Outreach Program with sponsorship from UnitedHealthcare.
A total of 38 students, residents, faculty and staff will return to Plattsburgh for a week long, no-cost dental clinic to provide examinations, fillings, extractions, and root canals, plus fluoride and sealants for children, among a range of oral health services, from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3 at the West Side Ballroom in Plattsburgh.
“Everything that we do at UnitedHealthcare is focused on helping people who are medically and economically disadvantaged in New York get well and stay well,” Nicole Guzzardi, regional communications director for UnitedHealthcare, said.
“We are committed to find new and innovative ways to provide solutions as a partner to the state and the community. What we do stands far beyond providing health insurance.
“We try to give our members tools and resources to help them live healthier lives that can range from quality healthcare and affordable housing to doing dental clinics like the one in Clinton County.”
The clinic first came here in response to the area’s high prevalence of ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families and individuals.
“They could be financially not that well off,” Guzzardi said.
“They may be employed, sometimes with multiple jobs, but they earn just enough to be exempt from government assistance so they can often lack access to routine dental care.”
Last year’s clinic received nearly 500 patient visits and 1,000 procedures were performed.
Organizers expect to see a similar number of patients this year.
In surveying patients who came out last year, 62 percent presented to the clinic experiencing pain in their mouths and 73 percent reported that they had not seen a dentist in the past year, according to a press release.
Cost was the main barrier to accessing oral health care, followed by difficulty finding a dentist that met their needs, whether based on location, insurance plans accepted, or long waiting lists.
The clinic is for anybody in the area.
In 2018, organizers anticipated a high number of children going to the clinic, but it turned out that most people that went were adults.
Clinic attendees should just bring themselves and their insurance card if they have one.
Though there is no-out-of-pocket costs, a procedure's cost might be covered by their insurance and will be processed as a routine dental visit.
Clinic patients are seen by NYU dentistry students with oversight from faculty and residents that are also part of the university's dentistry staff.
“It's a big group that gets together,” Guzzardi said.
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IF YOU GO
WHAT: Dental Clinic hosted by New York University Dentistry–Henry Schein Cares Global Student Outreach Program with sponsorship from UnitedHealthcare.
WHEN & WHERE: West Side Ballroom, 253 New York Road, Plattsburgh, N.Y.