Deserving Dental is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit organization, Federal Tax ID # 84-2369341. We provide free preventative dental care and education inside homeless shelters, battered women shelters, human trafficking rescue centers, runaway youth shelters, correctional facilities, residential substance abuse treatment facilities, homes for seniors and people living with disabilities. Since 2015, our founder Jennifer Geiselhofer has been providing preventive dental care inside these facilities with a her portable dental hygiene business. She noticed a significant number of underserved populations were not receiving the dental services offered because they did not qualify for state or federal assistance. Jennifer established Deserving Dental in July 2019 to close the gap for uninsured patients by providing free dental health care and education.
Many of Colorado's homeless population living in shelters are hard working individuals and families with small children. They have lost their homes due to significant health issues, mental illness, job loss, divorce or increased housing costs. Last year the individual income maximum to receive Medicaid assistance was $17,236. Most of our patients make more than this, but are still living below the poverty level inside the shelters.
Lack of professional dental cleanings, oral cancer screenings, and regular brushing habits have detrimental effects on the body and overall health. Bacteria in plaque from the mouth enter the bloodstream through the gums. The bacteria travels to the lungs and heart causing respiratory problems, clogging and narrowing of the Carotid Artery, potentially leading to heart attack and stroke. Serious gum disease affects blood glucose control and continues to the progression of diabetes. Our onsite service in these facilities give children and adults access to the dental care and education they desperately need.
Our mission is to provide the homeless and underserved access to high quality preventative dental care. This includes serving patients of all ages with significant health issues, mobility challenges, mental illness and financial limitations.
Every person deserves to receive quality dental care and education to achieve a lifetime of good oral and overall health.
Deserving Dental collaborates with other non-profit organizations like The Salvation Army, Urban Peak Youth, Catholic Charities, and The Denver Rescue Mission that offer shelter to homeless and underserved populations. These organizations welcome us inside the facility to provide on-site preventative dental services. Each of our on-site clinics look different depending on the size of the space. Some days we are in an organization's library, playroom, a director's private office, or even the barbershop in a drug and alcohol rehab center. We use customized portable dental equipment and supplies donated by our sister organization, Dental At Your Door . Their partnership allows us access to provide high quality preventative dental care.
Deserving Dental has wonderful working relationships with expert dentists, oral surgeons, ENT's, pediatric dental anesthesiologists with hospital privileges, and a Head and Neck surgical team that treat our patients when advanced care in needed.
Access to dental care in crucial for our young teen patients. Without parental guidance anymore, daily brushing habits and 6 month dental checks ups are not something our youth think of doing. We build pop-up clinics inside the shelter to make their dental cleanings, check ups and oral cancer screenings easily accessible.
We convert the toddler playroom at a family shelter into a dental hygiene clinic. Providing service inside the shelter is a wonderful opportunity for access to care. Children and their families are seen in the evenings so there are less missed days of school and work.
Runaway youth no longer have parental guidance and have little experience living independently. They no longer have anyone to remind them the importance of a 6 month cleaning and check up, or to remember to brush and floss everyday. Many are living on the streets and in shelters because they have aged out of foster care, have been sexually abused, have untreated mental illness, or have turned to drugs. Several of our runaway youth patients have trust issues. It is comforting for them to receive dental care in a space where they hang out each day. Our runaway youth tell us they are afraid, embarrassed, or just don't know where or how to go to a dental office on their own.
Small children of homeless parents do not have access to good oral care due to their living situation. Some live in shelters and others in the family car. Daily brushing habits are not achievable without running water or a private sink to store a toothbrush. We are welcomed at the mom and baby shelters on weekends to provide on-site preventative dental care where they are most comfortable. Being able to provide our services on weekends ensures that parents will not fall financially behind by missing work for family dental check ups.
Some of the pregnant teens we treat have been abandoned by their parents or have escaped an abusive living situation. Luckily, most have made it into secure housing for teen moms that provide GED services, teach life skills, and welcome our dental services on a regular basis. There is a major link between gingivitis and low birth weight preterm babies. There is also a high rate of baby bottle tooth decay. A young mother not knowing better, gives her baby sugary juices or milk at bedtime causing baby bottle rot in her child's mouth. Many of these cases involve the patient needing a referral to pediatric dentist/ anesthesiologist with hospital privileges to repair the dental infection.
Our homeless male patients inside the shelters are hard working men that can't make ends meet to pay for housing. Many have become homeless after suffering an injury at work with no medical insurance, a single income family that suddenly experiences job loss, divorce, child support payments, release from prison with no where else to turn, or a drug addiction that started from an injury medicated with opioids.
Some older adults residing in long term care facilities suffer from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Almost all of our older adult patients have their natural teeth, but because of memory loss, nervous system failure and lack of motor function do not have regular brushing habits. Studies have shown that many older adults living in nursing homes pass away each year due to oral bacteria aspirated into their lungs causing pneumonia while laying in bed for long periods of time.
These women and children have just been rescued from an abusive lifestyle. They are " in hiding" at the rescue shelter. The last thing on their minds is trying to find and afford a dental check up. Several women are missing their front teeth from being beaten. They have poor oral care from lack of brushing and professional dental care. Many of these women are scared of a male provider and lying in a vulnerable position. In this situation we bring an all female staff into the facility and have referrals to a female dentist for advanced care.
Our developmentally disabled patients and their caregivers struggle with compliance and willingness to care for their own teeth. Some patients resist going into a dental office out of fear or stepping out of their comfort zone at home. We bring preventative dental care into the facility or private home where patients are treated bedside.
Our patients experiencing spinal cord injuries require home dental visits because of lack of mobility, transportation, and body temperature control. Most of our patients have tracheotomies with ventilators. Due to the fact that they are unable to use their arms and hands for brushing, the oral bacteria builds fast and can be aspirated into their breathing tube causing a severe infection in the lungs.
Our transgender homeless patients have a fear of being judged going into an office. We are educated and have a clear understanding to ask what pronouns our patient prefers to use. Bringing preventative dental care into facilities that only house homeless transgender people is very comforting for
We receive many requests for patients on hospice that want one final dental cleaning in their last months or weeks of life. These patients do not have any dental coverage and most do not have funds at this point in their lives to pay for service. They are homebound due to mobility limitations, weakness, full-time oxygen, and a feeding tube. We will treat the patient in their home hospital bed or favorite recliner.
Did you know that only disabled or retired veterans receive free dental care? Those that have coverage need to travel a great distance to receive dental care at the VA clinic. Many are in wheelchairs, have lost their limbs, and do not have funds to even ride the local bus to the VA clinic. We offer our veterans free dental care in the shelter where they reside to provide true access to care.
Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals and provide more preventative dental care to the under served. Your generous donation will fund our mission.
All donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. For more information on donating please feel free to email admin@DeservingDental.org or call
(708) 650- 6229