||The mission of the Virginia Dental Association Foundation (VDAF) is to provide access to dental care to underserved Virginians. According to statistics reported by the Virginia Health Care Foundation, while there are some safety net dentists providing care for uninsured and underserved communities, most are inundated with patients. Far too many Virginia communities have no dental safety net at all. In some rural areas, there is just one dentist for every 5,000+ individuals. While there now are 100 dental safety net sites in Virginia, many only offer care on a part-time basis.
Thousands of people across Virginia experience chronic pain, difficulty chewing, low self-esteem and other complications resulting from oral disease, simply because they lack basic resources such as dental insurance or personal finances to access comprehensive care. At the VDAF, we are passionate about dental care and oral health because they profoundly affect the well-being and quality of life of individuals and communities. A well-documented body of research shows the link between overall health and oral health. Poor dental health is linked to conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and in extreme cases, malnutrition. It can also affect an individual's ability to secure and maintain employment. .
We can make a difference. Through our three nationally-recognized programs -- Donated Dental Services, Mission of Mercy, and Give Kids a Smile! -- volunteers provide dental services that not only benefit people in need of care, but also communities, employers and institutions that rely on a healthy population to be sustainable and successful.