The Chester area dental office of doctors Tony and John Agapis will host a free day of dental care for the sixth straight year as part of an annual Dentistry From The Heart (DFTH) event on Friday, Feb. 17, at 2480 Osborne Road in Chester.
More than 300 people from across Virginia are expected to start camping out around 6 p.m. the evening before to take advantage of the free services. Each year Dr. Agapis and his team of dentist, volunteers and sponsors provide patients with free extraction, filling or cleaning. To date, Dr. Agapis has donated more than $200,000 in free dental care to more than 1,000 greater Richmond area residents. “It all comes down to provide something greater to my community,” said Dr. Agapis. “The services provided by Dentistry From The Heart helps more than just a patients teeth, it gives them a renewed reason to smile.”
Dentistry From The Heart is a registered non-profit that was started by Dr. Vincent Monticciolo, DDS of Newport Richey, FL in 2001. Since DFTH began, it has grown to include over 200 annual events nationwide and provided more than 45,000 people with free dental care services.
The dental industry has been researching the connection of proper dental care and it’s affects to a person’s overall health. “Often we see severe dental infections and conditions that are difficult to treat in just one visit,” comments Dr. Agapis. “Many times dental infections can complicate the treatment of medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. “Inflammation associated with periodontal (gum) disease and tooth infection can have adverse effects on the vascular system, which can contribute to heart attack or stroke. It can make it very difficult to control diabetes and has been linked to low birth weight in newborns. We are just beginning to understand this important link between oral heath and overall health”, added Dr. Agapis.
The Dental Fears Research Clinic in Seattle, WA points out as much as 8 percent of people needing dental care never go to a dentist just from the fear factor alone. Another 20 percent never go until the pain has gotten so unbearable they have no choice. But, new dentistry techniques can alleviate that fear. “Conscious oral sedation allows the extremely fearful patient to relax during their dental visit with little or no memory of the appointment. Often we can take care of advanced dental problems in one or two visits,” said Dr. Agapis.
When you factor in those without healthcare or plans, that don’t include dental, and the cost becomes another reason not to see a dentist. “Patients who have lost their jobs or benefits usually put off preventive dental care for themselves which can result in painful tooth and gum infections,” stated Dr. Agapis. “Many times, tooth decay in the front teeth can result in the loss of self esteem due to an unsightly appearance. We enjoy getting people to smile again and getting them out of pain. It can make a huge difference in their lives.”
A few local Chester businesses have helped defray cost of the free program, by providing products and services at no charge. “One local business, Belchers Trophies, donates plaques for participating volunteer dentists. Also, our local Schein dental supplier donates some supplies, and Sign Crafters helps us with our signs every year. Also the many volunteer dentists, assistants, hygienists, and the rest of the caring people who make this event possible with their donated time and talents,” added the doctor. “We have no sponsors. I enjoy holding the event in my office because it is my way of helping the best way I can.”