Project Renewal’s Fort Washington Men’s shelter operates one of the nation’s few shelter-based dental clinics. It’s a vital service for our patients, who come to the clinic from Project Renewal shelters and programs, as well as through referrals from other organizations.
Good dental care can be a big step for people on the path to renewal. “The restoration of our patients’ teeth has a profound effect on their confidence and psychological well-being, especially since many of them are already coping with mental illness,” Dr. Mark Schufman, DDS says. Dr. Schufman is Project Renewal’s dental department director and his view of his job is different than most dentists. “My goal is to get patients ready for job and housing interviews,” he says.
Poor oral health can erode the confidence of people experiencing homelessness and impact their ability to secure employment or a home. Our clinic provides free cleanings, x-rays, and dentures to homeless and at-risk adults, like Barbara, a patient at our mobile medical vans who was referred to the clinic. Barbara, who was formerly homeless, endured the most strenuous times during the last recession. Her oral health deteriorated and she struggled to chew food. “Dr. Schufman was able to repair my teeth,” recalls Barbara, who has continued coming to our clinic for regular check-ups. “I can eat thanks to him. What he does is crisis intervention.” “It’s moving to see patients overwhelmed with joy when they first see themselves after replacing their teeth,” says Dr. Schufman.