When local dentist Dr. Robert Ettleman was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at just 54-years-old, he knew retirement wasn’t an option. Instead, the beloved local dentist who always dedicated a portion of his Dunedin practice to serving low income residents decided to spend his second career providing care to those most in need.
Dr. Ettleman and his wife Janet founded Gulf Coast Dental Outreach in 2007 to address the needs of Pinellas County adults without access to quality dental care. Now a pool of volunteer dentists and support staff see patients referred by the Pinellas County Health Department and other local agencies at a weekly clinic held most Fridays.
Patients pay just $25 for most procedures and receive comprehensive care that emphasizes preventative treatment.
Surprising Benefits of a Healthy Smile
According to the Florida Department of Health, research has shown there is a link between poor oral health and diabetes, heart and lung disease, stroke, respiratory illnesses and conditions of pregnant women including the delivery of pre-term and low birth weight infants.
Here in Pinellas County, just five percent of adults living below the poverty line have access to the insurance needed for adequate care.
“Since this population lacks health insurance, the dentists are sometimes the only doctors our patients see,” says Executive Director Harry Gross, Gulf Coast Dental. “That is why we also provide a vital health screening to make sure there are no latent medical issues that require attention.”
You Make Smiles Happen
Your support of the Pinellas Community Foundation makes it possible for Gulf Coast Dental Outreach to maintain essential clinic operations. Your generous donations are relied upon to help pay rent, electric bills and the salaries of part-time staff.
Thanks to you, more than 6,500 patients have been served and can continue to rely upon the clinic for their oral health care needs.
To learn more about how you can contribute to a healthier Pinellas County, please consider giving the gift of membership.