|Feb. 13, 2012|
By Matt Murphy
GRANBY For many people, a visit to the dentist is a frivolity. To someone battling cancer, it can mean the difference between life and death.
Before a cancer patient can start chemotherapy or radiation treatments, they are supposed to complete a dental clearance. The clearance is a necessity, but it is expensive, which is why Charlotte Chartier, a dental consultant, founded the Allana Smiles Foundation.
"Ten years ago my career goal was to make a difference through dentistry . When I learned about these problems with the dental clearance . I instantly knew this was how I could make a difference. It's incredible that so much good has come out of it," she said, noting that the foundation is named after a friend who lost her battle with cancer.
In order to cover costs of dental clearance checks, the Allana Smiles Foundation will host a "Roaring 20's" benefit on March 1 at the Log Cabin, 500 Easthampton Road, Holyoke. The night will include a dinner, a silent auction, music and dancing, along with a Ford Model-T from the 20's.
"This [financial] need is everywhere. I see it on a weekly basis," Chartier said.
Patients must pay anywhere from $300 to $1,500 for the clearance. Many people forego it because they do not understand that it is worth the money, she said.
"The dental clearance checks for any problems in the oral tissue and teeth. Chemo and radiation weaken the mouth's ability to produce saliva. And a dry mouth causes infections to worsen quicker in the teeth. Chemo reduces the body's ability to fight infection, so the infection in the mouth could spread to other parts of the body more easily," Chartier explained.
Dr. Joseph Bonkowski, DMD, MAGD, said, "Many things can happen if a problem in the mouth is overlooked prior to starting treatment . The chemo can cause osteoporosis, the dissolving of the teeth and jaw, and the infection, if spread throughout the body, can be life threatening . Sometimes, due to the lack of white blood cells caused by the cancer, the infections are untreatable."
Stressing the importance of the clearance, Bonkowski said, "It's the difference between hundreds of dollars and $20,000 and $30,000."
Those who would like to attend the benefit may do so for $100 per plate. Cocktail hour begins at 5:30 p.m. and the dinner, silent auction and dancing will commence at 6:30 p.m.
"It is a very altruistic cause, it's about helping," Bonkowski said of the benefit.
For more information about the Allana Smiles Foundation or the benefit, contact Chartier at 519-3657 or via email at email@example.com. or visit www.allanasmiles.org .
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