There’s the single mother from Kenya who works the graveyard shift. She has children but never had access to dental care.
Or the veteran who needs dentures but can’t afford them.
Then there’s the recent Highline College graduate who has everything going for him except that he only has four teeth in his mouth.
These are the types of patients doctors at Pacific Northwest Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are trying to help with their new Second Chance Program, which gifts an individual a complete dental reconstruction – a cost of up to $50,000.
“They’re trying to better their situation, getting an education and working hard,” said Dr. Ben Johnson of people like the Highline student. “They just don’t have that little piece of the pie – that dental component, you know? It’s a smile. It’s the first thing you look at. Dental implants can be life-changing.”
Johnson, an oral surgeon who works at the Federal Way location, said the work he and his fellow doctors are doing is more than ensuring dental health.
“Someone could come in with four to five bad teeth or a mouthful of bad teeth and they’re in pain, there’s infection,” Johnson said. “They don’t like the way they look, so it also has a personal stigma to it.”
Located at 2345 SW 320th St. in Federal Way, the Federal Way Pacific Northwest Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons office merged two years ago when Dr. Carl Johnson and Dr. D. Rick Edwards combined practices. There are also other locations in Kent, Auburn and Renton.
The doctors specialize in wisdom teeth, extractions, dental implants, trauma and jaw realignment and are always looking to give back to their community.
Johnson said the practice has helped The Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Federal Way, as well as those who can’t afford services but are in pain. The Second Chance Program, which had almost 400 applicants – 19 from Federal Way – is just the beginning of their work in the community.
In the fall, the doctors at Pacific Northwest Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons hope to launch an educational program called Academic Advantage. The program will be geared toward high school and college-age students who want to enter into the dental or health care field. Johnson said the program is an opportunity for students to ask questions and talk to other health care professionals and academic counselors.
Johnson said they’ve reached out to the University of Washington and Seattle Pacific University to be partners in the event, which they anticipate will seat 100.
“We’ll show some slides of cool oral surgery pictures, maybe get an ER doctor or internal medicine – whoever – to come out and discuss what they like about the field,” Johnson said. “Try to drum up some interest.”
Johnson said he got into his line of work because he grew up with his dad – Dr. Carl Johnson – in the field, but also because he wanted to help people.
“I’ve always been interested in being a part of changing someone’s life,” Johnson said. “Not that getting four wisdom teeth is going to be a game-changer to someone, but usually the most gratifying cases are if someone comes in and they have a problem and you’re able to provide a permanent solution for them.”
Johnson went to Utah Valley University for his undergraduate education, Temple University in Philadelphia for his dental schooling, and he completed his four-year residency in oral surgery at Cook County Hospital in Chicago.
He said the future goals of the practice are to bring on his brother in July and to continue being a place that people can trust and refer their friends and family.
“We, as the doctors, we have always wanted to be a guest office,” he said. “We’re always available. We like the dentists we work with in the community, and we know that they give back – we know that there’s lots of patients that we’ve worked with that like to give back to the community.”
For more information on Pacific Northwest Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, visit www.pnwoms.com.