||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, 3.8 million Virginians - roughly 46% of the population - have no dental insurance, and residents of 66 localities in the Commonwealth have no dental safety net provider. Medicaid, the program to cover health care costs for our lowest-income residents, does not provide dental services for adults (except in dire emergencies). 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. In the U.S. alone, employed adults lose more than 164 million hours of work each year due to dental disease or dental visits (National Institutes of Health, Spring 2003).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.