Although some of these people are being seen by local dentists at little or no fee, many, including children, are not having their oral health care issues treated at all.
Realizing the growing seriousness of this problem, a group of dentists and community leaders embarked on an ambitious project: to build and staff a volunteer dental clinic in Appleton, Wisconsin. In early 2002, a small group of dentists met and formed a steering committee to address the problem. Fox Valley area dentists were already providing oral health care in their private offices to many at low or no cost, but they were unable to treat the great majority of those in need of emergency dental care or restorative and preventative care.
The dental community in Outagamie, Calumet, and Winnebago Counties has not only agreed to volunteer their time and talents, but has also contributed financially as well. Doctors Jeff and Marissa Keesler donated a parcel of land across from the VA Clinic as the site of the new Tri-County Community Dental Clinic. Marquette University donated some of the equipment for eight dental operatory rooms.
A Board of Directors was formed and fundraising began to build an eight-chair volunteer dental clinic. In six months, over $1.2 million in cash, pledges and in-kind gifts were generously donated covering all building, equipment, and initial supply costs. Donors included dentists, individuals, foundations, agencies, businesses, churches and other groups. The federal government and State of Wisconsin also provided grants.