2020 Annual Report to Seattle Study Club
Activities from January 1 – December 31, 2020
The Dental Lifeline Network/Seattle Study Club Partnership
The Donated Dental Services (DDS) program helps individuals with disabilities or who are elderly or medically fragile and cannot afford or otherwise access treatment for severe dental conditions. As a result of their ages or disabilities, they cannot work and depend on government assistance for health care. Yet Medicare does not provide dental benefits—although a few recipients belong to Advantage plans that include minimum benefits for basic services—and most state Medicaid programs offer little to no dental benefits for adults. Those states with Medicaid coverage for adult dental services do not cover many procedures such as implants. Further, some individuals with disabilities or who are aged or medically fragile and can work earn just over the income threshold to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford the extensive dental treatment they need. As a result, many people with disabilities or who are aged or medically fragile suffer from seriously neglected dental diseases and have nowhere to turn for help.
Five hundred ninety-one (591) Seattle Study Club members volunteer to help these individuals. In 2018, Dental Lifeline Network (DLN) became the Charitable Partner of Seattle Study Club and since then, 88 members across 29 states have volunteered for the DDS program (included in the 591 total volunteers).
The DDS program serves individuals in every state as well as D.C. Since the program’s inception, 165,502 total patients have received more than $492 million in total care from a volunteer network of 15,158 dentists and nearly 3,445 labs. The collective goal for these programs in the 2020-2021 fiscal year is to help more than 10,000 individuals access more than $23 million in services.
Seattle Study Club’s Help in Action
One patient helped by the generosity of Seattle Study Club is Megan, 35, a mother of two who lives in a group home in Kansas. Two years ago, she was in a serious car accident that caused life-altering injuries. In addition to suffering a traumatic brain injury, she experienced multiple fractures in all limbs and now has numerous steel rods, plates and screws throughout her body. She also has memory problems, cognitive challenges, and mobility issues, and is unable to live on her own. Unfortunately, most of her teeth were broken in the accident, but she could not afford treatment to address her dental condition.
Due to her severe injuries, Megan can no longer work. She survives on a long-term disability benefit from a previous employer that goes entirely toward living expenses, medical bills, and child care while she is in the group home. Dental treatment seemed far beyond Megan’s reach.
Thankfully, a generous DDS volunteer general dentist who is a Seattle Study Club member wanted to help Megan. Another volunteer—an oral surgeon—extracted her remaining teeth, smoothed her jaw bone, did a bone graft, and placed two implants. The general dentist, with help from a volunteer laboratory, then donated a full upper denture and a full, implant-supported lower denture. Thanks to this incredibly generous team, Megan received more than $15,000 in life-changing treatment that restored her dental health and gave her a new reason to smile!
During 2020, volunteer dentists who are part of Seattle Study Club helped 420 patients in 35 states:
The 420 patients helped in 2020 received $1,053,127 in donated treatment thus far (255 are still receiving additional services). We are truly grateful for the generosity of Seattle Study Club members in helping so many vulnerable individuals during a year of unprecedented challenges. We would have been able to help even more people had we not lost nearly a quarter of activity due to pandemic-related office closures. Nevertheless, we are proud to partner with Seattle Study Club to help so many individuals who have nowhere else to turn. Please note, the fact that few people were served by Seattle Study Club members in some states compared with others is not necessarily reflective of the dentists not being interested in helping. For example, DLN has faced serious challenges in raising enough money in California and Texas, states with a significant number of dentists and many DDS volunteers. As a result, we can’t afford enough staff hours to utilize all the volunteers, despite their willingness to accept patients. We are well funded in most of the states where Seattle Study Club dentists treated more patients such as Colorado and Rhode Island.