Regular check-ups and cleanings are vital to maintaining oral health, which benefits a person's overall health. However, finding compassionate dentists who feel comfortable treating children and adults with developmental disabilities is more than a little challenging for parents and caregivers.
To address the gap in dental care services to this special community, the DDD Foundation Inc., opened a dental clinic 10 years ago, and has been quietly, yet effectively working to fill this deficiency in the metro-Atlanta community and beyond. Founded by Dr. Deidra Rondeno, D.D.S., the DDD Foundation ensures that people with developmental disabilities have somewhere to receive comprehensive dental care.
"In 1997, a state-run facility that treated more than 2,000 patients with developmental disabilities closed, leaving those patients with limited places to receive dental care," said Rondeno.
In 2002, Rondeno opened the DDD Foundation's dental clinic, which is currently located in DeKalb County, Georgia. Working with her colleague Dr. LaTonya Wade-Crear, D.D.S., in addition to a small staff of 12 people, Rondeno and the DDD Foundation's dental clinic lovingly dispense treatment to children and adults with special needs.
Today, the DDD Foundation's dental clinic is the only one of its kind in metro-Atlanta providing dental services to more than 3,000 patients coming from more than 70 counties across the state of Georgia. Patients also come from around the region, with some coming from as far as Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Among the services the clinic provides are dental exams, cleanings, extractions, root canals, dentures and fillings. The clinic also provides sedation to patients, as many have a limited ability to withstand dental intervention and need behavioral assistance to undergo dental procedures.
As metro-Atlanta's population continues to grow, families with children or adults with disabilities have also been increasing in number. As a result, the dental clinic has outgrown its current space and has been attempting to raise funds and secure grants in order to relocate to a larger facility, which would accommodate more patients and provide more comprehensive services.
One of the DDD Foundation's major annual fundraisers is its 5K run/walk, which is now called the Dental Dash at Dawn and is to be held this year on March 30. The other major fundraising event the Foundation holds is a golf tournament in the summer. However, in the past, monies raised have not fully met the financial needs of the organization, much less allow for expansion.
To that end, as 2013 begins, the DDD Foundation is on a mission to secure community and corporate financial support for the vital work it is doing, so it will be increasing its fundraising activities, as well as its coalition building inside and outside the disability community.
"It's challenging work, yet we have found a way to provide the services necessary to address the needs of this underserved community and we want to help many more," says Rondeno. "It's also very fulfilling work because we leave everyday knowing we are making a difference in our patients' lives. Not only are we improving their oral health, but we also help to reduce some of the stress in the lives of their families and caregivers who love them and want to keep them healthy," she said.
For more information about the DDD Foundation and its services, go to www.dddfoundation.org or call Sheri Lynch or Shannon Jefferson at 404-942-0086.