Granite Bay dental professionals help those less fortunate

By: Tinka Davi, Granite Bay View Correspondent
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Visiting the dentist may not be high on your list of likes, but having a toothache or a missing tooth and being unable to afford a dental visit is another story.

Without insurance or adequate income, people with these problems tend to suffer through the pain or they avoid smiling if the missing tooth is in the front row of their mouth.

What can they do?

Well, thanks to people like Scott Szotko, DDS, many children and adults are getting their teeth fixed and their smiles back. The dentist and his wife, Kimber Szotko, a registered dental hygienist, donate hours to helping those who don’t have dental plans or the funds to pay the bills.

The couple who own Signature Smiles on Sunrise Avenue in Roseville were among those professionals who donated their time and services at the California Dental Association Cares free dental clinic at Cal Expo in October.

According to the California Dental Association website, 2,026 patients at the Sacramento clinic were served by 1,651 volunteers who provided more than 10,000 procedures valued at $1.6 million in dental care.

“It was an amazing two days,” said Kimber Szotko. The doctor worked from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. both days providing all sorts of services from extractions to infection control.

The doctor also worked on correcting front teeth, just to give people their smile back, she said.

“People with problem areas in the front of their mouth are at a disadvantage at job interviews,” Kimber Szotko said.

The dental association provides funds for the program and dentists and dental professionals come from all over the state to help. Plans are to hold the event twice a year at different locations in California.

Scott Szotko is chair for the council on membership for the American Dental Association and is one of 67 delegates that formulate policies and direction of dentistry. He was affiliated with the ADA when in dental school. He’s been a dentist for 13 years.

In addition to the California Dental Association Cares events, he volunteers with several other programs including Give Kids A Smile. Each year, in conjunction with Children’s Dental Health Month in February, the Szotkos open their practice on a Saturday and provide treatment and education for children who don’t have access to dental care.

“A lot of dental offices do it,” said Kimber Szotko. “The school systems refer the kids.”

Through a Bayside Church, Roseville outreach program, the couple also participated in a dental clinic in downtown Sacramento.

“It was quite successful, although we could have treated more people. We plan to do it again,” she said.

They also participated in another program, Give Back A Smile sponsored by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. They treated a survivor of domestic violence who had her jaw broken.

“We gave the woman back her smile with new upper dentures and a new crown on her lower teeth,” Kimber Szotko said.

The work was done in conjunction with local laboratories, the Corr Dental Laboratory and the Roseville Dental Laboratory, who made the dentures and crown.

“They made a pretty substantial donation,” she said.

The Szotkos, who live in Granite Bay, moved to the area from La Jolla two years ago. They met at the University of Michigan, married and moved to Southern California. They moved to Granite Bay to be closer to her family.

“Granite Bay is a neat community. It’s fun to know all your neighbors, there are kids everywhere and our daughter, age 3, loves it,” Szotko said.

They bought Signature Smiles, an existing practice in Roseville, where they see families and special needs patients.

The doctor has spent over 10 years mastering the latest techniques in cosmetic dentistry with a focus on detail and the use of life-like porcelain and composite materials to enhance smiles.

It’s a slow time for dentistry due to the economy, but the Szotkos are busy with their volunteer work.

They enjoy giving back to the community by taking care of people’s dental needs.