The St. Petersburg Free Clinic has expanded its dental services to include providing dentures to low-income, uninsured and underserved adults in Pinellas County.
A $200,000 grant from the Florida Blue Foundation will help the clinic pay for a specialist and exams needed to fit people with dentures, which can prevent disease and improve a person’s overall health.
The prosthetic devices are used to replace missing teeth.
Beth Houghton, director of the free clinic, said the money will help more than 300 people get the devices, but the clinic doesn't plan to stop there. Houghton said grants like these typically snowball into more money from other sources.
"They help us get something started and we begin developing other interested parties who might help donate so we can continue the program,” Houghton said.
The money will pay for a part-time prosthodontist and cover the cost of a health screening, x-rays, molds and fitting for partial or full dentures.
Houghton said that before the grant, the clinic had to turn away many patients who needed dentures.
“Dental health is one of our most frequently requested health services,” Houghton said. “More than 100 people per month call to request our help in getting dentures, and until now, we were not able to help.”
"The population we serve, they can't afford health insurance, let alone dental insurance, and the out-of-pocket costs for dentures are significant.”
The St. Petersburg Free Clinic provided oral health screenings, x-rays, dental cleanings, tooth extractions and fillings for cavities to 628 uninsured adults last year.
Interested uninsured adults will need to undergo financial and medical screenings, receive a dental exam, x-rays and cleaning, and meet with a dentist through the St. Petersburg Free Clinic to determine eligibility for the program.