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Share a Smile provides dental care to refugees

Last month, International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City volunteers drove 26 newly arrived refugees south to American Fork to attend Share a Smile’s Smiles for Refugees dental event. Attendees, who would otherwise not be able to access dental services, received access to a wide variety of services including root canals, dentures, crowns, fillings, biopsies, x-rays and deep cleanings.

Heather Hogue, the Share a Smile Dental Coordinator, recently reported that patients continuing to participate in the program have received almost $35,000 in free dental care. She expects the number to double by the time all patients have completed treatment. Share a Smile not only provides services for refugees but for others in our community who may be at-risk or vulnerable including homeless, veterans and women in domestic violence shelters.

For many refugees, an appointment with the dentist may be something brand new. While many have access to dental care in their home countries, their time as a refugee often leads to a variety of dental ailments, often affecting the individual’s self-confidence, quality of life and even their ability to become employed in the U.S. Programs like Share a Smile provide newly arrived refugee adults access to the services they need to build healthier lives. They work with a number of dentists, dental students, and pre-dental students who volunteer their time to provide these services.

The IRC in Salt Lake City’s health team continue to seek opportunities for refugee adults to access dental and other health services. Oftentimes, there are a number of barriers preventing refugee adults from receiving the dental care and other care they need to positively integrate into our community. The IRC’s health team builds partnerships with organizations like Share a Smile to ensure refugee families receive the comprehensive treatment they need to regain control of their futures.

You can learn more about our health program, opportunities to volunteer, and opportunities to provide healthcare services to refugee families in Salt Lake City by emailing us at SaltLakeCity [at] rescue.org (subject: Health%20-%20Inquiry) .