The jolt of pain from a dental cavity is something members of The Friendship Club, which serves at-risk girls, will no longer have to endure thanks to the generosity of a local dentist.
Rockwell Family Dental provided more than $23,000 in services to Friendship Club members, including cleanings, X-rays, cavity fillings and extractions.
“We thought, ‘What better way to take care of people with actual dental needs in the community?” said Rockwell Family Dental relationship coordinator Tiana Rockwell. “I know a lot of parents would do anything for their children, so it’s got to be hard for the parents and grandparents to not provide them dental care because not all of them can financially afford it.”
Such was the case with most girls from the club who received services — their parents either did not have dental insurance, or the cost of services with their current plan was too expensive to seek treatment.
“It’s a really great thing because the last time I went to a dentist besides this was in third grade, and now I’m in eighth grade,” said Cheyenne, a club member whose last name is being withheld. “I wouldn’t have been able to come to a dentist for a while, and it would’ve gotten really bad,” she said of her tooth cavity.
“It felt like I was being punched in the face,” said Marley, who received fillings and two tooth extractions, of the pain. “It’s amazing because I need dental work so bad, and they are doing it for free for all of us. It’s very helpful.”
Rockwell Family Dental has donated to The Friendship Club for the past five years and also participated in regularly scheduled community events like providing services at homeless shelters in Sacramento and Rocklin to help make a difference in people’s lives.
“You get to see the same people on a regular basis and see the difference in their lives,” Rockwell said. “People are getting jobs because they are more confident and smile. That’s the impact we wanted to make in our own community. Although we’re not doing cosmetic work, even a cleaning can whiten a smile and (filling cavities allows people) to not be in pain anymore.”
The Friendship Club Executive Director Jennifer Singer said the Rockwells also provided dental services for senior girls last spring before graduation, and this round of services helped 21 girls.
“One of our girls has nine cavities to fill and has to have two extractions because (the teeth) were too far gone even for a root canal,” she said. “The Rockwells have been amazing. Their whole staff has been doing it, the dentist and (Tiana Rockwell) stayed until 8:30 p.m. working on girls.”
Most of the girls do not have dental insurance, Singer said, adding The Friendship Club staff helped pick the girls up from school and get them to their appointments.
The severity of some of the girls’ dental conditions poses a health concern, Singer said, making the Rockwells’ services so significant.
“For the girl who needed the extractions, that represents huge health concerns. That (bacteria) can get into your brain,” she said. “It’s a big deal that they are getting all of this help. Some girls have never been to a dentist, or if they have, it’s been many, many years.”
With all the things a family has to provide, dental care is often under-prioritized for low-income families, Singer said.
“I think dentistry in general gets glossed over,” she said. “It’s just one of those things, especially for families without resources, that isn’t a priority, and it’s a really big deal, so we’re just grateful that Rockwell can provide and help our girls.”
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.