OEC members bring smiles to dozens through Operation Round Up
Dental care is more important than just having white teeth. Tooth and gum infections are associated with heart disease, depression, speaking disorders and, if not treated, can lead to death. That's why the OEC Foundation, Inc. board has been funding dental needs since the inception of Operation Round Up® in 1993.
The OEC Foundation board in June sponsored MobileSmiles Oklahoma, a nonprofit dental care program dedicated to building partnerships to improve and advance oral healthcare in Oklahoma. The partnership with Delta Dental and the Oklahoma Dental Foundation helped 31 clients receive much-needed dental care. 
"We funded the unit for three days at a cost of $3,000 total. That $3,000 provided over $18,000 worth of dental care to those who needed it," said Joyce Wallace, OEC Foundation board president. "This is a fiscally and socially responsible way for the OEC Foundation to help fulfill the needs of so many of our neighbors and friends."
With the vital help of volunteer dental professionals, MobileSmiles utilizes two RV-style mobile dental units that travel across the entire state of Oklahoma delivering free dental care and education. Dental treatment is provided onsite.
Services provided on the mobile dental unit include fillings, extractions, cleanings, sealants and fluoride varnish. The mobile unit does not provide root canals, oral surgery, partials or dentures.
Dental care, like vision care, is not covered by most health insurance plans. Medicare doesn't cover most dental care, dental procedures or supplies — cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, dentures, dental plates or other dental devices. Medicaid is only required to cover dental care for children.
About one-third of the United States population goes without dental coverage because they can’t afford it. Bad teeth are a hindrance to finding work, keeping a job and confidence. Tooth pain makes it difficult to concentrate and can severely impact educational attainment for young people.
"About 70 percent of individual applicants request assistance with dental costs," said Tory Tedder-Loffland, OEC education and outreach coordinator. "Funding this need is becoming greater and I am proud to be part of an organization that prioritizes the needs of the community and cares enough to help so many people get the help they need."
Read more about Operation Round Up on page 4 of each month's Co-op News.