Creating lasting oral health for low-income children, adults and seniors in Santa Cruz County
Years active: 30
Leadership: Laura Marcus, CEO
Their story: In 1992, the HIV crisis was growing and there were a lot of concerns about how to care for dental patients who were HIV positive. Dientes Community Dental was started with a mission to serve these patients and also the county’s low-income population. The organization operates full-service bilingual dental clinics throughout the county, serving more than 11,000 residents. Half of the organization’s patients are children, and Dientes strives to hell establish good oral health from a young age, Services include dental cleanings, dentures, oral surgery and more. Dientes also serves the Juvenile Hall in Felton and conducts outreach services to schools and other locations.
Fundraising focus: General donations made to Dientes are designated to the following areas...
- Keeping Care Affordable: All too often, wealth = health. Dientes believe everyone deserves the dignity that comes with a healthy smile. Support from the community helps ensure that cost, insurance, income, language, and transportation don’t prevent people from visiting the dentist.
- Offering High-Quality, Comprehensive Care: Dental care is expensive, and without Dientes, comprehensive care is often out of reach for our low-income neighbors. For those living in poverty, Dientes is the only provider of dentures, oral surgery, endodontics (root canals), and specialized pediatric dentistry.
- Focusing on Prevention: Toothaches are largely preventable with routine care. Yet, it’s a top reason low-income children miss school and seniors miss meals. With increased access to care, Dientes aims to make prevention more common than treatment.
Laura started her career in nonprofits in 1997 as part of an HIV/AIDS prevention project in South Africa and became Executive Director of the Human Care Alliance after returning to the United States in 2000. Laura joined Dientes Community Dental Care in 2004 and served as Executive Director from 2006 through 2008. After serving as the Vice President of risk at Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group in Santa Cruz, Laura rejoined Dientes Community Dental Care as CEO in May 2011.
We believe that having access to oral healthcare is a social justice issue — one that we fight to correct every day.