Expanding on Collaborative Efforts
Offering Comprehensive Care to Those in Need
In the realm of healthcare services for homeless populations, dental services are often lacking—and veterans are significantly affected as part of this population. Most people assume that all veterans receive free dental care from the Veterans Administration. “However, that applies only to a limited number,” Carey Lyons, CEO of integrated dental systems, explains. “There is a large population with no access to VA dental care, and that’s why we became so interested in supporting the efforts of the Brighter Way Dental Center.”
The Brighter Way Dental Center, in Phoenix, Arizona, is the largest volunteer dental clinic in the United States, offering comprehensive care for the homeless. Kris Volcheck, DDS, MBA, runs this state-of-the-art facility, operating solely on donations and volunteers, and he views veterans as one of the primary populations the clinic needs to focus on.
“Our collaborations with the Veterans Administration have grown every year,” Volcheck says. “The clinic sees about 8,000 patient visits per year, and 40% of those are veterans.” In addition to the regular comprehensive care—whether it is root canals or dentures—the clinic is now working to provide much-needed implant treatment for veterans, integrated with implant training courses.
To expand these services, Brighter Way began collaborating with implant companies to do their training courses at the dental center. The state of Arizona is unique in that it allows dentists to volunteer in a non-profit organization for 14 days. Volunteers are able to come for implantology training, and they can return in 6 months and restore the implants.
“You can see how this synergy works,” Volcheck says. “We can now do hundreds of implants for our veterans—all-on-4, full restorations. The dentists not only receive great training in implants, they are also exposed to our cause. And our veterans get care that they can’t receive from the Administration System, which doesn’t offer these procedures.”
According to Volcheck, integrated dental systems stepped up first. “They said they were going to treat our veterans at an ultimate level, while training dentists to be comfortable with placing implants. At the same time, they were also going to expose all of these providers throughout the country to our cause, so maybe they could help us going forward.”
This 4-day comprehensive hands-on training was developed for dentists who want to learn how to do implants, improve their current skills, or advance their knowledge to do implant surgery and restorations. “Regardless of your skill level, our courses will expand your comfort zone, enabling you to incorporate new and valuable techniques into your practice,” Lyons says. “These courses emphasize real world execution of implant placement, alveolar ridge expansion, and crestal and lateral wall sinus graft augmentation.” With a ratio of one instructor to two students, attendees will have hands-on experience with a number of different cases and situations to advance their skills. By performing procedures in a small group setting under the supervision of expert faculty, they plan and perform treatment on pre-screened patients, with various levels of surgical complexity that matches the dentist’s clinical skills. The comprehensive experience covers all phases of implant placement, treatment planning, diagnosis, radiology, and restoration.
“So far we’ve had two courses, one in October and another in November,” Volcheck says. “Our plan in 2017 is to expand to 8 to 10 courses a year. Depending on the course, we treat 50 to 80 patients each round.”
In addition to serving these patients, Volcheck sees this program as an opportunity to promote other career options for the DDS or DMD. “There are some beautiful alternatives out there that will make a very large difference in your professional and personal life,” he says. “My life has been broadened by my commitment to public health. The dentistry part is absolutely important, but it’s almost incidental, because there are so many other interesting and important issues surrounding these people that you have to take care of. One of our messages is to look at what’s possible for your quality of life as a dentist. There are so many options.”
If you are interested in learning more about this program, visit Advanced Implant Educators at www.advimplanteducators.com.