12 ON YOUR SIDE: How to get help with dental work

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Many of you were moved by Keith Johnson's cry for help finding an oral surgeon to extract his rotting and broken teeth. We heard from others with the same critical need, and tonight, we want you to know help is available.

Like Keith, many say medications ruined their teeth, and they suffer through mouth pain because they don't qualify for help.

The Virginia Dental Association Foundation is a good place to start.

Keith Johnson's search for an oral surgeon to extract his jagged and rotting teeth ended the same day he shared his dilemma with NBC12 viewers. He's in good hands now. An excellent oral surgeon saw his story and has taken on his case.

"I know that you usually get things done," said Johnson. "Something hit me the other day, call Diane Walker. She usually make things happen and see what she can do or see who she knows, so I can get my smile back."

Keith is one of 3.8 million people in Virginia with no dental insurance. The Virginia Dental Association Foundation says, if you're looking for help, they have programs for the elderly, disabled and children.

For donated dental services, you must be elderly or disabled and have critical dental needs to qualify.

"It's amazing, the importance your smile has and dental health has on your self esteem and your overall general health," said Barbara Rollins with the VDA Foundation. "A successful patient usually receives fillings, extractions, dentures and it's all provided by the volunteers for no charge."

VDA Foundation makes it easy for dentists and oral surgeons across the state to volunteer their services. It screens patients to make sure they qualify.

To date, 58,000 people have received dental care - totaling roughly $42 million.

At vdaf.org, you can find an application or call 804 288-5750. Four hundred people are on the waiting list. Other places to try are Cross Over health clinic, the VCU School of Dentistry, and the Vernon J. Harris clinic.

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