Northwest News

Dentist: Day of free treatment worth the stress

Clintonville doctor prepares for third year of Dentistry from the Heart event


The third annual Dentistry from the Heart event put on by the Clintonville practice of Dr. Kvitko, Metnes and Associates isn't until June 14, but Dr. Brian H. Kvitko is already starting to fret.

He's worried he won't have enough dentists, hygienists, dental assistant students and others on hand for the marathon of free care to be offered to those in need. It's been an uphill battle, Kvitko said recently, to get the dentists who turned out the first year or those who came on board last year to re-up for the third go-round.

"At the end of the second event, I was convinced we were going to do a third, but as time is growing closer, I'm beginning to wonder what I've gotten myself into," Kvitko said. "We have to reinvent the wheel every year.

"I know we have time, but I'm starting to feel like we're running out of time."

Dentistry from the Heart is a national nonprofit organization that was established in Florida in 2007 and has grown to hundreds of events each year across the country. Kvitko met Dr. Vincent Monticciolo, the New Port Richey dentist who launched the charity, at a conference in November 2010, and decided to stage his own Dentistry from the Heart event at his Clintonville offices, 4308 N. High St.

As the date for his second Dentistry from the Heart approached last year, Kvitko spoke of why he wanted to put himself and the other volunteers through a grueling 12 hours of providing dental care to those in need:

"It was probably the greatest thing I think I've ever been involved in."

But gearing up for the third time around is, Kvitko said, once again fraught with challenges both familiar and new.

"Things that we had lined up, we found that we don't have lined up -- things like tents," Kvitko said. "The first-year source didn't pan out for year two and the second-year source might not pan out for the third year.

"I keep pursuing it."

He also keeps pursuing other dentists to volunteer so that every hour from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 14 will be covered.

"We've been very careful and very thorough in giving thanks to all the dentists ... to make sure it wasn't just my practice," Kvitko said.

The website seeks dentists, hygienists, clinical and support staff to volunteer for the event, along with "anyone else willing to give their time for the day."

Last year, Kvitko recalled, the Whittaker Dental Group on nearby West Cooke Road opened up five of its eight chairs to Dentistry from the Heart patients. Kvitko said he wasn't certain Dr. Erin Whittaker of the practice knew just how much of a commitment participation was going to mean, so he didn't know what to expect when she came up to him at the end of the exhausting day.

"I'm thinking, here's where I'm going to be told, 'Don't ever call me again,' but instead what she said was, 'I've been in practice for 18 years and this is the most fulfilled I've ever felt,' " Kvitko said. "So that kind of emboldened me to just keep asking, keep asking."