Joseph Murphy says he has struggled with dental problems throughout his life. “It was an inevitability that I was going to lose all my teeth at some point,” Murphy said.
Eventually, he needed dentures, but the dental work wasn’t covered by Murphy’s insurance. On average, full dentures can cost around $3,200.
“I live on Social Security, and that’s my only income,” Murphy said.
Unable to get the dental work on his own, Murphy applied for the New Mexico Dental Association Foundation’s (NMDAF) Donated Dental Services (DDS), a program that provides extensive dental work at no cost for low-income New Mexicans who are seniors, veterans, or disabled. This year, NMDAF received a $10,000 grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico’s (BCBSNM) Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® initiative to support DDS.
“My life has changed.”
Thanks to the program, Murphy was able to get the dental work he needed, a lengthy process that included extractions, surgery, impressions and fittings.
“I can’t express my gratitude enough,” Murphy said. “My life has changed.”
Oral health is an important factor in overall health and wellness. Dental problems can cause pain, infection, difficulty eating and reduced quality of life. Gum disease is also associated with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. DDS works to provide needed treatment for patients who could not otherwise afford it. In turn, this helps patients with the ability to smile, eat nutritious foods, and live a life free from the pain associated with oral conditions.
“We’re able to give people this new quality of life that they couldn’t have otherwise,” said Amy Alexander, DDS program manager. “We are the only program in New Mexico that does this kind of free extensive dental work.”
More than 170 dentists throughout the state volunteer their time for DDS to perform dental work. Participating labs provide donated or discounted services for crowns, dentures, bridges and dental appliances.
In the last fiscal year alone, 112 patients received a new smile through DDS. Since 2001, DDS has donated nearly $6 million worth of dental care to more than 1,400 patients.
In addition to supporting DDS, BCBSNM has also supported NMDAF’s Mission of Mercy events, which provide dental clinics for low-income New Mexicans.
“The $10,000 grant that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico has given Donated Dental Services has really provided more resources for us,” Alexander said. “Without the generosity of our donors, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, we couldn’t serve any patients.”