For Good: Grant pays for dentures for Pinellas needy

St. Petersburg residents have something to smile about after a sizeable grant was given to the St. Petersburg Free Clinic.
 
Florida Blue Foundation, which is part of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, has agreed to finance the ‘Smile, St. Pete,’ program, which will provide dentures, partial dentures and dental flippers to 300 people.
 
With an estimated cost of $200,000, the grant will provide dentures to low-income, uninsured and underserved adults in Pinellas County. The St. Petersburg Free Clinic provided oral health screenings and treatment to over 620 adults last year.
 
“We've seen a need in the community since we started the dental program in 2011, to expand and offer more services including dentures and flippers,” says Beth Houghton, Executive Director of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic.  “Due to the number of extractions that are done with some of the people we serve, in order to chew well, eat and smile again dentures and partials are the only way to go.”
 
The grant offers funding over a three-year period. Houghton and her team say that the dental work can be life changing.
 
“Some of the people in our dental program have never been to a dentist before, so there were a lot of extractions that needed to be done,” says Susan Easter, Director of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic Health Center. “We had a patient who worked in the catering industry and lost his insurance and most of his income during the recession, he had 14 extractions. Working in the catering business, he needed the self-esteem that the dentures and smile gave him, rather than being embarrassed about his teeth.”
 
Houghton and Easter say there are many more people in need of help, and will continue to need help after the three year grant is over. In addition, while the grant is very helpful, it does not cover all of the other dental costs including x-rays, dental cleanings and fillings. If you would like make a donation to the clinic, click here.

Read more articles by Kimberly Patterson.

Kimberly Patterson is a news editor for 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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