The Smile was Free, But the Hug was Priceless

By Dr. Paul Palo

As I stood with a badly aching back and feet that felt as if they had been beaten from continuously standing for 12 hours two days straight on a concrete floor, a woman appeared and briskly walked toward me. Her look was determined and a little concerned.

First, let me explain my location: I was at the Lee County Civic Center Arena. This is where I’ve just spent three days volunteering for the Florida Dental Association Foundation’s (FDA Foundation) fourth annual Florida Mission of Mercy (FLA-MOM) dental clinic. Last weekend, me and my fellow dentists, hygienists, assistants, laboratory technicians and lay volunteers provided nearly 2,000 patients with more than $1.7 million worth of dentistry at no charge to them. Hard work? You bet it is. But worth every ache and blister.

So, back to the distressed woman who approached me. I was the lead volunteer in charge of overseeing dental triage, so I was frequently singled out by many people with questions and concerns. This young woman certainly looked concerned. She introduced herself as an advocate for a group of people staying in a drug addiction treatment facility in Naples. Dr. Leo Cullinan had arranged to bus them over to our event to take advantage of the treatment we were providing. She explained that one of her charges, a 24-year-old young woman, had come in the day before with many painful, bad teeth. It was determined that her remaining teeth were so badly decayed, none could be saved. She was taken to oral surgery where a skilled surgeon removed her remaining teeth. The caregiver’s reason for concern was because she could sense the despair in this young woman’s eyes at now not having any teeth to present herself with for future employment. I calmly explained that our clinic had no provisions to make immediate dentures, but she was not deterred. So, at this point, I brought in Dr. Cullinan to see if there were any available resources in Naples to help this young woman out. And that’s where I left her — in Dr. Cullinan’s capable hands. I moved on to other problems that needed to be solved and completely forgot about the situation.

Fast-forward 24 hours to Saturday afternoon, when I was helping break down the clinical equipment and box it up to transport out when again, who do I see but the advocate bounding straight for me — this time with a huge smile on her face.  She thanked me profusely for helping the young woman the day before, and told me that due to Dr. Cullinan’s persistence, she was fitted for a same-day denture courtesy of Dr. Reza Iranmanesh, our wonderful lead prosthodontist. “This will change her life!” she proudly exclaimed as my eyes began to mist over. She then embraced me in a wonderful heartfelt hug of thanks —  more payment than I ever expected, but so gladly accepted.

If you’re looking to help change the lives of so many in need as well as receive much more payment than you would ever get in a typical week at the office, I urge you to join us in Orlando in March 2019 for the FDA Foundation’s next FLA-MOM. It will change your life, too.


Dr. Palo is a member of the FDA Board of Trustees and an alternate to the American Dental Association 17th District Delegation. He is a general dentist in Winter Haven, Fla. and can be reached at


Come for the CE, Stay for the Fun at FDC2018!

The 2018 Florida Dental Convention (FDC) will be held June 21-23 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando. As a member benefit, Florida Dental Association (FDA) members can pre-register for FREE and earn up to 18 hours FREE continuing education (CE) credit.

This year’s theme, “Elevate Your Game,” is designed to assist the entire dental team with furthering their professional knowledge by offering more than 95 lectures and 30 workshops. FDC2018 has placed a conscious effort in specialty care CE, as well as focusing on complications that may arise during dental treatment.

Back by popular demand are “live dentistry” courses, designed for you to observe in-office operatory procedures firsthand. Course topics include orthodontic black triangles, CEREC and dental implant surgery.

Take advantage of free course tuition at FDC2018 and apply to be a speaker host. Lecture hosts will receive free course tuition for the hosted course and a lunch voucher for Exhibit Hall concessions. Workshop and certification hosts will receive free course tuition for an AM or PM lecture course of their choice and a lunch voucher for Exhibit Hall concessions. As a speaker host, you will introduce the speaker, make course announcements, pass out and collect surveys, and assist the speaker, if necessary. Click here to apply today!

Connect with more than 300 leading dental exhibitors at FDC2018. The Exhibit Hall will feature exhibitors ready to show you the latest technology, materials and instrumentation for your dental practice.

FDC offers fun for everyone! End each day with fun-filled and family-friendly events. On Thursday, sing along to Dueling Pianos, and on Friday, flashback in time at “80s Flashback!” If you are looking for nightlife, join the new dentists Friday night for “The After Party.”

Click here to register for FDC2018 today!

For questions or more information, email or call 850.681.3629.




Chew on This! with D4 Will Baldock

Filmed in a single shot, the FDA asks intriguing people what they like, what they don’t and that fascinating middle ground that defines them.

We visited the University of Florida College of Dentistry and met up with D4 Will Baldock. Want to know what his hip-hop stage name would be? Click below to find out!

32 Questions with Will Baldock from Florida Dental Association on Vimeo.

ADA and CVS Collaborate on Three-year Oral Health Initiative

By Dr. Jeannette Peña Hall

CVS is renowned for promoting health and wellness. As an advocate for oral health, the American Dental Association (ADA) is committed to educating the public on the importance of oral health and the practice of good habits. The ADA has embraced an exciting three-year collaborative effort with CVS with product offerings and in-store education efforts that will reach hundreds of millions of people each year. The two organizations together will make a tremendous impact on how effectively oral health messages reach the public.

In January, flyers began to circulate announcing this promising affiliation. The ADA’s collaboration with CVS will be instrumental in creating awareness of the ADA and dental care products that have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance — from mouth rinses, toothbrushes, toothpastes, floss/interdental cleaners and sugar-free gum. CVS consumers visiting stores also will be provided with credible oral health information and encouraged to visit the dentist through the ADA’s Find-A-Dentist online resource.

These are exciting times for our ADA dentists as we embrace the renewed energy that comes with teamwork and networking. Kudos to CVS for valuing the role of oral health in the public’s overall health!

The three-year collaboration just launched, and we are in the planning process with CVS and manufacturers. As a result, there will be much more to come in stores and online.

  • We have already begun promoting the relationship at CVS to the public. The circular that ran from Jan. 28–Feb. 3 announced our relationship, highlighted ADA Seal products, educated the consumer on core daily hygiene habits and encouraged consumers to find an ADA dentist.
  • In March, permanent store signage will go up to educate the consumer about oral health and the ADA Seal of Acceptance. This signage will remain in place for a year.

Benefits of the Collaboration

How will this help me as an ADA/FDA member?
The collaboration will include signage that highlights the ADA Find-A-Dentist online search tool, which allows potential patients to easily find you, pending your profile is up to date. If you have not yet updated your ADA profile, now is a great time to do so. Click here to update your ADA profile.

When will we see promotions at CVS?
Promotions kicked off with a full-page ad in the Jan. 28 CVS circular that announced the collaboration to customers. In March, store signage promoting oral health information and ADA Seal products will go on display in the oral health aisle and other areas of the store. Seasonal programs to connect oral health with holidays and health awareness months will start this summer.

Dr. Peña Hall is an endodontist in Miami. She is on the FDA Board of Trustees, a member of the Florida Delegation and on the ADA Council on Communications. She can be reached at