5 Dental Volunteer Stories that Made a Difference

Dental Lifeline Network is committed to making a difference — it’s our mission to provide much needed dental care to the elderly, people with disabilities, and medically fragile populations that cannot otherwise afford dental services. The backbone of DLN’s work is our flagship Donated Dental Services (DDS) program, carried out by the amazing dental volunteers who help it to function. The participation and donated services of these professionals comprise a vital part of DLN’s capacity for impact, helping us to address a need that we only begin to meet. Every person who contributes to our DDS programs offers life-changing and meaningful aid — inspire yourself and others to make a difference by reading and sharing the 5 highlighted dental volunteer stories below.

1. Dr. Joseph Womack

Dr. Joe Womack has been a dental volunteer with DDS in Kansas for 22 years, helping 47 people with over $177,000 in donated dental treatment. His patients have come to him with experiences like those of Albee, a former dental professional who had been living with severe disabilities and health issues since an accident in 1996. Dr. Womack provided the services that Albee could not afford on her own, drastically improving her quality of life. For his continued compassion and relentless service, Dr. Womack was awarded one of the Kansas Volunteer Awards by DLN in 2018.

2. Dr. Ashleigh Harrison

Dr. Ashleigh Harrison is a DLN dental volunteer who works with DDS in Colorado. She firmly believes that the outcomes of the DDS program embody the goals that “dentistry is all about — getting people out of pain, but also restoring their confidence.” Juanita of Denver is an example of a DDS patient whose dental and emotional health were both boosted by Dr. Harrison’s service. Juanita had been unable to work for a number of years due to compounding health issues that included severe tooth decay — after Dr. Harrison donated full upper and lower dentures, Juanita was able to return to the job hunt and her social life with renewed confidence. She also found that improved dental health positively affected a number of her other medical concerns.

3. Dr. John Eastman

According to Dr. John Eastman, DLN’s programs make it easy to make a difference.  “It’s a great way for the dental industry to give back to our community,” said the dental volunteer, who works with DDS in Rhode Island. Recipients of Dr. Eastman’s care include people like Paula, a widow from Cranston, RI who used to be a nurse. An accident ended Paula’s career and brought on health issues including severe intestinal disorders, exacerbated by Paula’s lack of posterior teeth. Along with a team of DLN dental volunteers, Dr. Eastman provided the treatment that Paula so desperately needed, but couldn’t afford due to her disabilities and limited income.

4. Dr. Megan Finkbine

Dr. Megan Finkbine is a DLN dental volunteer with DDS in South Carolina. In her work with DDS she has served as the last resort for patients like Herbert, a minister from Summerville who became his wife’s full-time caretaker after she suffered a stroke. Struggling already to make ends meet, Herbert was also trying to maintain his diabetes and deal with failing oral health. Dr. Finkbine donated the time and care that Herbert needed, restoring the dental health that remains vital to this man’s profession and his ability to speak to his congregation. Dr. Finkbine has found that in volunteerism she has ultimately “receiv[ed] so much back from the patients that it is so incredibly rewarding.”

5. Dr. Phillip Nguyen

Dr. Phillip Nguyen is a dental volunteer with DLN’s DDS program in Hawaii, giving his time and resources to help patients, such as Gary of Oahu, who have nowhere else to turn. Gary, a proud 30-year participant in the Special Olympics, offers inspiration to others through his lifelong determination in the face of his intellectual and developmental disabilities. However, Gary couldn’t afford any dental care with his small Social Security disabilities benefit. Dr. Nguyen performed multiple procedures for Gary and felt that “it was truly an honor to help him.” The work of dental volunteers like Dr. Nguyen help so many kind and grateful patients like Gary to live happier and healthier lives.

DLN is so thankful for the tireless efforts of its dental volunteers — we share dental volunteer success stories to spread awareness around our impact, and to encourage greater numbers of dental professionals to volunteer in support of our cause. Check out the Our Volunteers Say page for more information about becoming a dental volunteer, and don’t forget to visit our blog for the latest success stories and news updates from DLN!