Donated Dental Services for the Handicapped

by Ann Weichbrodt

From the Summer 2004 issue of Hopes & Dreams, newsletter of the Illinois Chapter, Huntington's Disease Society of America.

It is very important for an HD patient, especially in advanced stages, to keep his or her mouth clean. Decay due to not cleaning the teeth properly or the backup of acid in the mouth due to regurgitation of food can lead to a variety of dental problems. A trip to the dentist can be a difficult experience. Due to choreic movements, it is difficult for the HD patient to keep his mouth open while a dental professional works on it. This is frustrating for both the patient and the dentist. Also, monetary considerations can be daunting.

Two years ago, I was faced with the problem of my dentist not wanting to work on my husband�s teeth any longer, in fear of having his fingers bitten or the husband being injured by a dental instrument stuck in his mouth. My dentist informed me of the Illinois Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped. The Foundation can connect you with a dentist in your area who volunteers his/her time at little or no cost to those who need dental care, suffer from a permanent disability, and are unable to pay for the required dental care. Many of these dentists are willing to see difficult patients. They will either schedule a longer than normal appointment to finish necessary dental work in one visit or to put the patient to sleep while working on his mouth. The service is generally at no cost to qualifying persons. Those who can pay for partial care are encouraged to do so. The service is not for those who seek routine or preventive care.

When calling the Foundation, you will receive a 4-page application that you must complete. The application requests personal financial and medical information. When your application comes up for review, a referral coordinator will share your information with a volunteer dentist. If the dentist is willing to see you, the referral coordinator will notify you with the dentist�s name and phone number. You are responsible for scheduling the appointment for an exam. Final acceptance into the program is made only after a clinical exam and treatment needs are established. The State of Illinois Donated Dental Services has 640 dentists and 142 labs that volunteer. The service can help you find specialists in Dentistry such as Periodontists, Prosthodontists, and Oral Surgeons. I am informed that the waiting list is very long. Wait time could be a couple of months to a year in some rural areas of Illinois.

For those living in the Chicagoland area, you can call the Illinois Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped in Northbrook, IL at (847) 498-0385 or toll free at (800) 893-1685 to receive an application. For those living in Illinois outside the Chicagoland area, call their Peoria office at (309) 689-6785 or toll free at (8000 699-6785. Or you can go the website of the National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped at and click on the State of Illinois under Donated Dental Services on the second page to get the application.

Created and maintained by Renette Davis. Send comments to Renette by clicking here.

Created: Aug. 11, 2004
Last updated: Nov. 13, 2010