New York City dentist offers hundreds of people in the Bahamas access to free dental care.
Residents of the Bahamian island Eleuthera formed long lines as soon as they heard that a dentist was coming to town. With only one dentist on the island, good oral health exams are rare, and what made this even better was that the dental services were free.
That’s thanks to Jonathan Levine, DMD, prosthodontist, and associate professor at NYU School of Dentistry, who teamed up with performer Lenny Kravitz. Kravitz is a patient at Levine’s Fifth Avenue dental practice and knew how much Levine enjoys helping others.
Levine and his wife, Stacey, co-founded the GLO Good Foundation, which brings oral care services to underserved areas of the world. Through his work at GLO Good, Levine has helped Operation Smile, Autism Speaks, and other nonprofits.
Kravitz leads his own foundation called Let Love Rule. He spoke with Levine about teaming up to help people on the island. Working through their foundations, Levine and Kravitz first brought oral health treatment, education, and tools to more than 250 adults and children in Eleuthera in 2015. Hundreds more waited in line to receive help, so they decided to go back the following year.
In October 2016, they expanded their services and brought a team of dentists, endodontists, prosthodontists, assistants, hygienists, lab technicians, and additional support staff. A total of nearly 500 people received oral exams, which included making and repairing dentures, fillings and restorations, root canals and extractions, cleanings, sealants, and whitening. Additional services provided were monitoring blood pressure and vitals and dermatology screening.
“The one dentist on the island does a good job, but it’s impossible for him to serve everyone,” Levine said. “And for us, even though the workload is huge, it’s so rewarding. It has a real positive impact on the people.”
The days on the island were long with two shifts to see everyone waiting. It also took time to set up the makeshift dental practice. In some cases, some members of the team worked on people in lounge chairs. “The setting was different, but the services were the same as if they were coming into my practice here in New York,” he said. “Everyone deserves a high level of care.”
According to Kravitz that’s just what the people of Eleuthera received. “It is of the utmost importance that the people in my community receive free first-class healthcare. This is just the beginning. There’s still a lot of work to do.”
Levine agreed. He and Kravitz have plans to return to the island this fall with more volunteers. “Access to quality oral healthcare can be a challenge, but not an impossibility,” he said. “When you have people coming together in the spirit of giving back, it’s not only possible, it’s rewarding.”
Levine continues to volunteer his time through GLO Good. “Our core mission is to go wherever there is a need for services,” Levine explained. “And with partners like Let Love Rule and Lenny Kravitz, we are able to leave healthy smiles where the mission takes us.”
That mission has taken him to help people in many parts of the world. He is on the board of Foundation Rwanda, which helps the children of the 1994 genocide; he serves on the advisory board of Help Corps, a national service and peer-mentoring initiative. Plus, he donates his time and expertise to Operation Smile to help correct childhood facial deformities across the globe.
“Oral healthcare education is a large part of our mission,” he said. “GLO Good also teaches those we treat about the importance of lifestyle habits to prevent dental disease from becoming life threatening.”
He and his wife host fundraisers so their missions to aid others can continue. To find out more about GLO Good, visit their website.
February 13, 2017
Janet O’Dell, RN