Each year, a team of Putnam Dental Associates staff and patients travel to Palmarito, a very poor village in the Dominican Republic. The need for basic dental care is overwhelming, and because of the enormous amount of those in need, the team has yet to be able to serve everyone who needs help. In fact, the first year so many local residents were in intolerable pain as the result of a lack of preventative care, the team was forced to extract more teeth than they were able to save. While we are slowly progressing in saving more teeth, the need is still critical. Working conditions are deplorable: lawn chairs placed on concrete slabs act as dental chairs; flashlights as the only source of light to help the team perform procedures; sheets hung from the ceiling as privacy screens, and so on.
To that end, the team holds several fundraisers each year, as volunteers each pay their own way. In addition, the team’s priority is to raise enough funds to purchase a portable x-ray machine that will enable them to help people even more.
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Each year, Putnam Dental Associates hosts Dentistry From The Heart. This special event is open to the public, and provides free dental care to local residents in need, offering them a free dental cleaning, a tooth extraction or filling. 2017 marks the sixth year that Putnam Dental Associates have provided a free day of dentistry.
Due to the fact that the event is first come – first served to the first 100 people, lines often form very early in the morning. Each attendee will meet with one of the team members to discuss their highest priority/concern and will then be seen by a hygienist or dentist for the appropriate treatment.
Many other local businesses also participate as well, making this a true community event. Thanks to the generous volunteers, we are now able to offer a variety of other services including a blood drive, eye exams, chiropractic care and many others.
According to Toni Pernesiglio Viau, one of the founding members of Putnam Dental Missions, “The emotional connections made and the sense of pride in the work we have done fuels us to want to do even more. There is much more to do, and we are constantly at work preparing for our next event and anything that we can do in between. These events have grown far beyond our expectations, and we are beyond thrilled to be able to make a difference right here, in our own back yard.”
Putnam Dental Associates is dedicated to be recognized as a company that not only believes in giving back – but actually gives back. The entire staff participates in a wide variety of programs, organizations and events throughout each year, and has gained the reputation as being one of the most philanthropic organizations in our region. Throughout the years, we have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars of free dental care to those in need both locally and abroad.
The magnitude of those in need is so great, that Putnam Dental Missions, a registered 501(c)(3) was born. The organization is dedicated to providing free dental care to those in need. Putnam Dental Missions participates in a wide variety of events each year both locally and abroad. According to Dr. Ern, “For several years I have wanted to do something with my talents, and I am fortunate to have many like-minded members of my team willing to volunteer, led by my hygienist Toni Viau, whom I consider the ‘social conscience’ of my office.”
In recognition of the practice's efforts to help others, Dr. Ern was awarded the very prestigious 2017 Dr. Richard G. Spolzine Access To Care Humanitarian Award, an award given by the Ninth District Dental Association. This honor recognizes those who have gone above and beyond in serving the public.