Patients in Favor of Free Dental Care in Exchange for Community Service

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A program that provided patients with free dental care in exchange for community service was well received by volunteers and dentists alike, according to research from the University of Michigan (U-M) School of Dentistry that focused on a program geared toward low-income adults. The study surveyed patients and providers who participated in the Care Free Pay It Forward Program that offered adults in and around Ingram County $25 in dental services for each hour of volunteer work.

Of the 38 patients who participated in the pilot program, 80% stated they liked the arrangement and would recommend it to others. Eligible patients were required to take a short health education class and donate four hours of volunteer work at a nonprofit. The first hours covered the initial exam, radiographs and prophylaxis, followed by the dentist outlining various treatment plans. Participants were then given the number of volunteer hours they needed to continue treatment. The study, “No Cost Dental Care in Exchange for Community Service Hours: Participating Patients’ and Dentists’ Responses,” published in the Journal of the Michigan Dental Association, reports that, on average, patients volunteered 33 hours and received more than $1150 in treatment.

From Decisions in Dentistry. October 2017;3(10):11.

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