SATF dentist Dr. Brenda Buzby, left, provides dental care at the two-day community event

By Tina Lawrence, Health Program Manager III
Substance Abuse Treatment Facility

Dentists and dental staff from correctional facilities and the office of the Region III Dental Program in Bakersfield volunteered to provide oral health care services at no charge to those in need as part of the California Dental Association (CDA) Cares clinic in Bakersfield.

The Oct. 6-7 CDA-sponsored biannual event provided more than $1.25 million in care to 1,506 children and adults.

Region III Dr. Melissa Primus, right, treats a patient.

Dr. Brenda Buzby, a dentist who works at Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran, said she likes participating in the events because there is a need for access to care in California.

“So many people don’t get the dental care they need because they may not have insurance, don’t have time due to work schedules or for many other reasons,” she said.

The event drew more than 1,100 volunteers, including 524 dentists and dental and health professionals who provided fillings, cleanings, extractions, limited dentures, root canals and oral health education to people experiencing barriers to care.

“The reason that we volunteered is to see people smile and feel relief from pain,” said Region III Dental Assistant Martha Ruiz, who also provided Spanish translation for patients. “It is a great feeling to be a part of this event.”

CDA Cares also shines a spotlight on the compassion of the volunteers and the good work dentists do in communities throughout California.

CDCR volunteers included Dr. Brenda Buzby, SATF; Dr. Arie Rynders, Wasco State Prison; and Dr. Sterling Bryan, contractors for community correctional facilities; Dr. Melissa Primus, and Dental Assistants Martha Ruiz and Cindie Trujillo, Region III Dental Program; and Leticia Rubio, Dental Assistant, California City Correctional Facility.

Dental Assistant Martha Ruiz, with Region III, pitched in to help during the event.

The line of patients needing dental care stretched down the block at 5 a.m. on the first day.