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He needed dentures, but the work wasn’t covered by Murphy’s insurance. Full dentures can cost around $3,200.
“I live on Social Security, and that’s my only income,” Murphy said.
Murphy was not able to get the care on his own. He signed up for the New Mexico Dental Association Foundation's (NMDAF) Donated Dental Services (DDS). The DDS program helps people get extensive dental work. The care is given at no cost to low-income New Mexicans who are seniors, veterans or disabled.
This year, NMDAF received a $10,000 grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico (BCBSNM) to support DDS. The grant came from BCBSNM’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® initiative.
Thanks to the program, Murphy was able to get the care he needed. The care involved extractions, surgery, impressions and fittings.
“I can’t express my gratitude enough,” Murphy said. “My life has changed.”
Oral health is vital to overall health and wellness. Problems with teeth can cause pain, infection and problems eating. This can lead to reduced quality of life. And gum disease is linked with serious health issues, such as heart disease and diabetes.
DDS gives care to people who could not normally afford it. The care helps people with the ability to smile, eat healthy foods, and live a life free from the pain tied to problems with their teeth.
“We’re able to give people this new quality of life that they couldn’t have otherwise,” said Amy Alexander, DDS program manager. “We are the only program in New Mexico that does this kind of free extensive dental work.”
More than 170 dentists throughout the state volunteer for DDS to do the dental work. Participating labs give donated or discounted services for crowns, dentures, bridges and dental appliances.
In the last fiscal year alone, 112 patients received a new smile through DDS. Since 2001, DDS has donated nearly $6 million worth of dental care to more than 1,400 patients.
BCBSNM has also supported NMDAF’s Mission of Mercy events. The events provide dental clinics for New Mexicans in need.
“The $10,000 grant that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico has given Donated Dental Services has really provided more resources for us,” Alexander said. “Without the generosity of our donors, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, we couldn’t serve any patients.”
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