Dordt College News

Addinks Provide Dental Care for Shelter Residents

November 2, 2007

Addinks provide dental care for shelter residents

Reprinted w/permission from the Sioux City Journal
By Joanne Fox, Journal staff writer

Walking past a room in the Women and Children's Shelter, if you were to hear, "Is your tooth bothering you today?" you might think it was a conversation between the residents.

But on closer inspection, you'd discover the exchange was initiated by Dr. Ken Addink, a dentist from Sioux Center and/or his wife, Barb, who visit the shelter monthly to provide oral care for the women and children residing there. Ken is a 1974 graduate of Dordt College.

The Addinks began regularly coming to the Women and Children's Shelter in March.

"I knew about the service provided here through Dr. (James) Jespersen of Rock Valley," explained Ken Addink. "I stopped and visited one day and saw the room and liked the setup."

"Actually, we had been thinking about doing some outreach mission work," explained Barb Addink. "When Ken got a partner in his practice, then this seemed to be something we could do."

The Addinks have a particular schedule when they visit Sioux City. They examine the women at the shelter in the morning and the men at the Gospel Mission, a few blocks away, in the afternoon. They bring supplies, instruments, a small table and a lawn-type chair with them to augment what is already available.

"We're learning as we go along," Ken Addink admitted.

"For example, no X-rays," he said, despite a lead apron hanging on the wall. "There's no way to develop them."

But the services are more complete than one might imagine. Cavities may be filled. Teeth may be extracted. Ken Addink made a full set of dentures for one woman.

"Although, it is minimal involvement with the women," he acknowledged. "Sometimes we see them one time; sometimes three times, depending on their length of stay here."

Addink said what was surprising to him was, "I never realized how big the need is here for dental care."

Armed with that knowledge, Addink added that even one encounter with a patient can be helpful.

"You can inform the patient what the problems might be and they will come away with he knowledge of why their mouth or tooth hurts," he said. "Then they know what's wrong and you provide encouragement as to what they need to do next."

As with most dental practices, all ages visit for all types of procedures, including children who may have never seen a dentist before.

"But a child's level of anxiety typically isn't as high as an adult's," Barb Addink clarified. "Adults who have had a bad experience with a dentist will have a much higher anxiety level. If you're nice and friendly with the kids, they'll be great to work with."

Ken Addink said at the heart of this volunteer activity is to make oral care available for the residents and children, but it's also an insight about those less fortunate.

"It's a window into lives," he observed. "Ideally, we hope that once the women are settled they'll find a family dentist and start regular care. Realistically, we know that may not be their number one priority."

"Financially, it might not be," Barb Addink pointed out. "Sometimes even a procedure that costs $100 is beyond their means."

Both Addinks view their volunteer time at the shelter as an extension of their Christian faith.

"I hope we bring hope and the love of Christ into their lives," Ken Addink said. "It's actually a privilege for us to do this ministry."

"I hope we show a genuine respect for the clients, and that we genuinely care about them," Barb Addink said. "I hope we can be Christ to these people."

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