Holly Ellis, B.S.W. ’05, executive director of American House Foundation, knows the importance of oral health. She also understands the financial challenges many seniors face when accessing dental services. So she reached out to Detroit Mercy Dental.
The American House Foundation works to improve quality of life for senior citizens living at or below the poverty level. They generously provided $10,000 to Detroit Mercy Dental to pay for services for these patients.
“American House Foundation wanted to develop a dental program to help low-income seniors have the financial support they needed to address their oral health and the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry seemed like the obvious partnership,” Ellis explained.
Seniors are keeping their teeth longer than previous generations, but they face many barriers in accessing dental services to maintain optimum oral health. According to the CDC, 35.7% of adults aged 65 and older did not have a dental visit in 2016. For many, it is due to an inability to afford care.
“Dental care is often put-off because of cost, and the impact on the overall health of the patient can be greatly compromised, especially in seniors.” Ellis said. “We are excited to watch this new program make a real impact on the health and well-being of its patients”
So far, funds have been used to assist low-income senior patients at Detroit Mercy to receive preventative and periodontal treatment, extractions, crowns, and partial and complete dentures.
Eugene Huntington, 64, was provided a partial denture through the grant. Huntington is currently undergoing treatment for a cancer diagnosis and struggling to pay medical bills; completing his dental treatment would have to be postponed.
Michael Pyatenko, D.D.S. ’91, clinical assistant professor and Clinical Leader, identified Huntington as a candidate for the American House Foundation’s grant. “We wanted to help Mr. Huntington through this tough time and enhance his quality of life by allowing him to eat comfortably,” Pyatenko stated.
When Huntington learned the balance had been paid, he was overcome with gratitude and joy. “It’s nice knowing someone is there looking-out for me,” he said with great emotion. I’ve always spent my life trying to look out for everyone else,”
“This didn’t just make my day, it made my entire year.”