PORTLAND — Not everyone enjoys going to the dentist, but what if the dentist could come to you?
Richard Brewer, a Portland resident and former teacher at Cheverus High School who founded One Warrior Won five years ago, said his organization has been working to serve as many veterans as possible and get them services, especially the harder ones, like dental care.
“They often don’t qualify (for these services),” Brewer said, unless they are offered it by an employer.
The service is provided by a traveling dental office, dubbed the “MouthMobile” by Aspen. The dentists, hygienists, and staff assistants are all volunteers, recruited at each local stop. The company has about 400 affiliated practices across the country.
“They do the most urgent dental care people have,” Brewer said. One person had to have four teeth extracted that day.
Brewer, a veteran himself, said he hadn’t been to a dentist in seven years when the program began. However, all he needed was “a good cleaning.”
“It’s been a nice service to bring to Portland,” Brewer said, adding that while there have been other non-mobile dental clinics in the city before, this was the first time a mobile service had been offered. The MouthMobile first began touring in January 2014.
Portland dentist Dr. Christina Dominguez said in addition to the free services such as cleanings, x-rays, extractions, fillings and repairing prosthetics, the volunteers will also provide free follow-up care. She said “whatever comes in, we’re taking care of it.”
“A lot of the patients have barriers,” Dominguez said, such as fear of high insurance costs. “We’re trying to break down those barriers.”
Dr. Justin Griffee, also a dentist in Portland, said volunteering was a “no-brainer.”
“It’s a unique opportunity,” Griffee said. “There’s a limited number of organized events for dentists to volunteer at.”
“Giving back is important, and this a very specific thing we do,” Dominguez added. She said veterans often have difficult times getting dental care, often because of disability or lack of insurance, so “being accessible is important.”
The event at 145 Marginal Way attracted 13 volunteers, including the two dentists. Brewer helped screen and identify the 22 veterans who received the services. After Portland, the MouthMobile moved on to stops in Syracuse and Albany, New York.
Access to dental care isn’t the only service Brewer and One Warrior Won are interested in providing. In addition to touring the country and giving speeches on post traumatic stress, Brewer is also providing veteran adventures and dog services. The dogs come from kill shelters in the south, and go through training before they are provided free to veterans from Maine to South Carolina for free.
“We also do ice and mountain climbing (trips) with veterans to make them feel alive again, to make them feel they are part of something,” Brewer said.
Dr. Justin Griffee, right, and dental assistant Stephanie Salamone provide care to military veteran Michelle Hank aboard theAspen Dental MouthMobile on June 5 in Portland. Grifee and Salamone were among the volunteers from Aspen Dental who provided free care to veterans.
The Aspen Dental MouthMobile is a fully equipped dental office that travels around the United States to provide dental care to veterans.