Our Mobile Dental program relies on variety of community partners to help provide dental clinics to those most in need. In 2012, Medical Teams International partnered with Fish for Teeth – a non-profit organization serving Washington’s San Juan County. Matt Marinkovich, a San Juan Island commercial fisherman and founder of Fish for Teeth, shares the impact MTI’s mobile dental care has had in his community.
First off, the only reason Fish for Teeth exists is because in 2005 an eight-year-old girl came up to me out of the blue when I was at the elementary school playground with my daughter. She said to me "Wanna see my cavities?" and opened up her mouth to show me a mouth full of decay. That was the extent of our "scope of need" study; one and half years later Fish for Teeth was formed, complete with a Board consisting of fishermen and dentists.
A few years later, we were introduced to Medical Teams International’s Mobile Dental program. Their mobile dental vans equipped our volunteer dentists with all they needed to provide care. Since we partnered with MTI, we have had many instances that made us say "Thank God we're doing this!" Thumbing through the comment forms patients fill out after their visit really shows that we are reaching the people that need help. One woman said the pain was so bad she "thought she was going to die," while another woman said that she felt like her visit to the dental van "saved her life.”
I grew up with a lot of cavities and know what dental pain is like, and I cannot imagine having a toothache and not having a way to make it end. So I'm really glad to be a part of this to help people rid themselves of dental pain!
During our most recent clinic, my wife met a woman who said her husband’s tooth had been hurting him so much he couldn't talk or sleep, and they didn't have money to see a dentist. My wife encouraged her to bring him to the clinic and they took care of the situation that day. This couple is just one example of the many people we see who need help - responsible families who are working two jobs, but still don't have the means to afford dental care.
Thank you to MTI for giving Fish for Teeth the means to help so many people up in the San Juan Islands.