Twenty dentists, 16 specialists, 23 dental hygienists and dozens of staff members volunteered their time Nov. 4 to provide teeth cleanings, fillings and extractions to people who cannot afford regular dental care and do not have dental insurance, according to a news release from the Maine Dental Association in Manchester.

The program, Dentists Who Care for ME, offers one oral care service or a referral to a specialist if needed.

Dr. Demi Kouzounas, of Scarborough, who organizes Dentists Who Care for ME, along with Dr. Barry Saltz, also of Scarborough, said the eighth annual program examined and treated nearly 400 patients and provided nearly $100,000 in free care. Since its inception, the program has examined and treated more than 3,000 patients and provided services valued at over $1.1 million, according to the release.

This year, for the first time, 63 second-year University of New England dental students volunteered as part of the program.

UNE student Drew Rodney, who participated in this year’s program, said the program is a benefit to everybody involved. “The dentists are able to give back to their community, the dental students gain valuable experience assisting, and most importantly, the patients receive some much needed care, which in some cases is critical to their long-term overall systemic health,” Rodney said according to the release.

Offices that participated were located in Portland, Scarborough, Buxton, Skowhegan, Lisbon, Yarmouth, Biddeford, Windham and Falmouth.

Extractions were the most frequent oral care service provided by dentists at this year’s event, followed by fillings and cleanings.

New participants this year included Dr. Kyra Chadbourne, who practices in Falmouth. Chadbourne saw the program as a “rewarding” opportunity.

“Dentists Who Care for ME is an opportunity to break down the barriers to care and provide the critical treatment and education that a lot of people go without,” Chadbourne said according to the release. “It is all about the individuals that you touch during this program, and improving health through disease control and prevention awareness.”

Joining the dentists, specialists, and hygienists during the day of service were many volunteer dental assistants and office auxiliary personnel who help make the event possible.

Offices or individuals that want to participate in next year’s event, can contact Kouzounas at 329-9978 or [email protected], or Saltz at 318-3913 or [email protected].

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