SYCAMORE – On Saturday, Nov. 10, Collins Dental Group P.C. provided veterans and their immediate families with free dental exams and cleanings, as well as certain dental procedures, such as extractions and fillings. The practice saw nearly 100 patients and provided more than $23,000 worth of dental work that day.
Veterans of all ages and their families took advantage of the event, the first of its kind for the dental group. Most veterans are provided with medical care programs once they return to the U.S., but dental care is sometimes not an option for them financially. Collins Dental Group saw a need for dental care assistance in the local veteran community.
Vets were greeted by the local VFW post commander and regional recruitment officer, who explained some of the benefits available to them and invited them to enter a drawing for a new American flag. Throughout the day, Dr. Dennis Collins and many of the staff came out to the waiting room to greet the veterans and their families and thank them for their service.
The practice began taking reservations for weeks before the event and had nearly 70 appointments booked by Nov. 10. Despite only a 10 to 15 minute wait after check-in for most procedures, the waiting room was full the entire day and the mood was light.
The staff had been busy planning the event for months.
“It’s our way of thanking (veterans) for their sacrifice and service to our nation,” Collins said.
Twenty-five staffers, six hygienists and six doctors volunteered their time to work at the event.
“We feel it is important to be part of the social fabric of our community along with our patients,” Collins said. “All the dentists at Collins Dental Group live, work and play in our local communities.”
The practice also has a veteran on staff. Dr. Bryce Deter, a dentist, is a U.S. Navy veteran who has worked for the group for more than 20 years. Deter served five years in the Navy as a dental officer and reached the rank of lieutenant commander. He was stationed in California, Okinawa and Rhode Island.
“What impressed me most about the Navy is their professionalism,” Dr. Deter said. One aspect of Navy dentistry Deter has implemented into his practice is the team approach. “In the Navy I was working with other dentists routinely, so it seemed natural to come into a group practice and have a similar setting. The advantage you have is you see a case, show an x-ray to another doctor and bounce ideas off of them. I think it affords better treatment for the patients,” he said.
Collins said the service of veterans inspires him and the rest of the staff.
“We are all eager to give back to them by donating our time and resources in order to provide these veterans with dental care,” he said.
Collins said he plans to make the free dentistry for veterans day an annual event.