San Diego, Calif. – July 5, 2018 – Turn up the volume and join the party at the second annual “Dance For Seniors’ Smiles” fundraiser on Sunday, July 15 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown San Diego. Organized by the team at the nonprofit Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center and community partners Dance It Out, Zumba, and U-Jam Fitness, proceeds to support senior dental care for low income San Diego seniors.
This event will help seniors like Annie. J., a 65-year-old, downtown San Diego resident who doesn’t have dental coverage. Annie dealt with multiple missing teeth and infected areas in her mouth for years. Embarrassed to smile, she would talk to people with her hand over her mouth. Not having dental coverage made seeing a dentist cost prohibitive and forced her to medicate her dental pain rather than solving it. The Senior Dental Center team was able to perform extractions as well as fabricate full upper and lower dentures. Annie now has a restored smile, beautiful and bright that lights up a room. She is very happy to receive compliments about how lovely and happy she now looks. “I have regained the confidence to communicate with the public, which is an everyday task at work that I would usually shy away from,” she says.
More than 200 people are expected to participate in a high-energy fitness / dance workout appropriate for participants of all fitness levels. The “Dance for Seniors’ Smiles” fundraiser is one of several events to be held around San Diego County for GIVE65, a 65-hour, crowd-fundraising event for nonprofits to help raise money for programs and services that create hope for seniors from July 10-12, 2018. All participating organizations are eligible for matching grants, up to $5,000 per organization in a dollar-for-dollar match. To register, donate and learn more about the event, visit www.seniordentalcenter.org and click on the GIVE65 logo.
“We encourage all San Diegans to participate in the ‘Dance for Seniors’ Smiles’ fundraiser and put your money where their mouths are,” says Dr. Karen Becerra, CEO and dental director of the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center. “For as little as $10 a month or a one-time donation of $120, you can provide a yearly cleaning for a low-income senior in need.” It is likely we all know and love someone affected by limited access to oral healthcare so in addition to having a blast participating in a high-energy, easy to follow workout led by certified fitness instructors dance party guests will leave feeling great about supporting a good cause.
The Senior Dental Center links high-quality and affordable oral healthcare with a suite of nutrition, case management and wellness services offered at Serving Seniors’ Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center, creating a one-of-a-kind, integrated community-based system of care for older adults, who primarily live on less than $850 a month and often choose between paying for basic necessities like rent, food or healthcare. Established in 2016, the Senior Dental Center fills an important need for seniors, who come from throughout the county, not just from downtown San Diego where the center is located. The majority of patients seen at the Senior Dental Center are eligible for Denti-Cal, the dental program within California’s Medicaid (Medi-Cal) program. However, because not all services are covered by Denti-Cal, other services are provided based on a sliding fee scale.
While dental care seems to be so simple and routine for many, it is important not to lose sight that as people age, access to dental care tends to decrease. According to the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute, approximately 67 percent of low-income seniors did not visit a dentist in the last year. The top three barriers to dental care are high cost, transportation and lack of providers accepting Denti-Cal. In fact, 41 percent of American seniors choose between rent and nutrition each day, so dental care is rarely prioritized. Some seniors even believe that it is no longer necessary to visit the dentist as they get older.
The statistics of poor oral health among seniors across the U.S. is staggering:
- 70% of the 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, have no dental insurance.
- 77% have fair or poor oral health.
- 45% are missing teeth with no dentures/partials/implants.
And in San Diego, the Gary & Mary West Senior Dental Center’s registered dental hygienist team members report:
- 41% have need for immediate dental treatment
- 46% have untreated decay
- 43% need periodontal care
- 26% have severe gingival inflammation
Research shows links between periodontal infections and chronic conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease, which can be especially devastating to older adults. “If we can treat the root causes of the dental pain, we can hopefully ward off other types of disease and infection that would affect other parts of the body,” says Dr. Becerra. She and her team rely on the public’s generosity to fund their mission and help San Diego seniors. “Events like ‘Dance for Seniors’ Smiles’ allow us to reach new people to support our cause, and also celebrate health and wellness for seniors.”
The nonprofit Senior Dental Center hopes to raise $5,000 during the GIVE65 campaign in July. While it is a modest amount, it will help seniors like Annie have their faith restored, as well as their smile.
To learn more about the nonprofit Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center, or to make a tax-deductible donation, please visit seniordentalcenter.org.
EVENT CALENDAR INFORMATION
“Dance for Seniors’ Smiles” Fundraiser
Sunday, July 15
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center
1525 4th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101
Tickets: $15 per person
This is a high-energy dance party to raise critical funds for the nonprofit Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center. Help us reach our goal of restoring low-income seniors’ ability to eat, speak, and smile by ensuring they have access to oral healthcare. Held in partnership with Dance It Out, Zumba and U-Jam Fitness. For more information, or to register, visit www.seniordentalcenter.org.
About The Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center
The nonprofit Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center, through its innovative care model, offers high-quality, affordable oral healthcare with comprehensive education, health and wellness services at Serving Seniors’ Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center in downtown San Diego to serve low-income seniors. The West Senior Dental Center was established by the nonprofit Gary and Mary West Foundation whose founders are philanthropists Gary and Mary West. For more information and to donate, visit seniordentalcenter.org.