Too Poor for Dental Care Robs Wife of Husband's Kiss


"We'd ask simple questions about their prescription medication, and as we got the details of their personal medical history, we'd get their life stories – the drugs they were taking and the diseases and problems they'd had," he said. "We were stunned."

Even dental problems like Crosby's had a huge impact on their lives.

"It's an emotional issue for people -- your health is your life," said Zaman. I have no teeth and have no confidence. I can provide for my family if I feel good about myself."

The joy of volunteers also inspired the directors.

Thom Dandrige, with his wife, Judy, runs RAM's optical lab, which operates out of a retro-fitted Mac track once used for transporting NASCAR vehicles.

For more than a decade, Dr. Joseph Smiddy, a Tennessee pulmonologist, has been driving and operating a truck outfitted with high-tech X-ray equipment to various RAM events.

Patients waiting in long lines were frustrated at times, but grateful.

"The emotions were like a county fair, with people tailgating and making the most of the situation," said Zaman. "There was so much warmth there."

Reichert added, "Doctors can be like doom and gloom, but here they were part of the solution -- it wasn't perfect, but they made a difference in peoples' lives."

Val Crosby said the dental care she received was more than just cosmetic -- she'd worried that the infections in her mouth could lead to stress on her heart.

But more than that, the dental care helped lift a depression that had cast a long shadow over her life.

"I hope our politicians see the need for some kind of universal health care that includes dental, vision and medical, and caters to everybody, not just people who have money, but people who are struggling," said Crosby. "In a year or two, we might be high up on the hog. But right now, it's a struggle for us."

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