Don a 62-year-old homeless veteran living with chronic dental pain.
Don served our country proudly for 22 years. He had some bad breaks in life, found himself homeless, and in desperate need of dental care; he does not qualify for dental care through the V.A. because his condition is not 100 percent related to his service. He was forced to live with the pain.
The pain is so great that you look for pain medication off the street and found himself addicted.
He met someone that helped him enroll in a special V.A. program to help with the addiction. He recovers from addiction and is no longer homeless, but his dental problems are even worse than before.
Don has 16 teeth left in his mouth, all so badly decayed that the only portions left of them sit below the gums, all nerves exposed. He still doesn’t qualify for dental care through the V.A.
The pain from his teeth is so great that he would “rather beat his head on the ground than continue feeling the pain.”
In 2014, Don submitted an application for help with his oral health. One month after receipt of his application, we called him and were unable to reach him. His phone number disconnected. Five years later, we heard from him. He had been in treatment at the V.A. Hospital. Clean and sober in extreme pain. Two days after contact, we were able to find a dentist who worked less than two miles from where Don was living. After hearing Don’s story, the dentist immediately said YES! To helping him. We made the arrangements for his first dental appointment and asked Don to call us afterwards to let us know how it went. Don called as promised. We asked him how he was treated and if he liked the dentist and his staff. He responded by saying, “they were great, they treated me like very well…but I have a heavy heart.” When I asked him “why?” he responded, “a few years ago, I went to that clinic with a horrible toothache. They pulled my tooth and when they asked for payment, I told them I would come back the next day and pay them. I never did. And today, he told me he was going to take care of me, pull all my teeth, and make me a really nice set of dentures, for free! I don’t know if he remembered who I was. I feel really bad about that.”
Dr. Lavelett, had been volunteering with D-DENT for over 20 years. His heart, as big as it comes! He knew his story, he remembered him, and he knew how much he had already overcome. Dr. Lavelett, opened his clinic to help don, a 62-year-old veteran of 22 years, with his oral health needs. The total donated value of the work performed on this veteran was $8,810, completely free of charge! The cost to D-DENT, was a $612 dental laboratory bill incurred to produce the dental prosthetics. The dental laboratory had discounted the cost because they knew the dentist was a D-DENT volunteer providing charitable care for a veteran in need.
For over 34 years, D-DENT has partnered with dentists working from their own private dental clinics, in order to help improve the oral health of Oklahomans in need by providing free comprehensive dental care through a statewide network of volunteer dental professionals, like Dr. Lavelett.