GLEN ROCK, N.J. -- David Schoenberg of Glen Rock has a history of helping locals smile.
Which is why he strives to improve access to dental care to everyone, whether they're elderly and frail, disabled, bedridden or otherwise.
For nearly 30 years, this Spring Valley native has personally taken several days a year -- including Christmas Day -- to provide free dental work to homebound people without the funds to pay for it.
"Tooth extractions and restorations are not typically found on people's wish lists at Christmas," the dentist told Daily Voice.
"But for some, having a dentist relieve their pain so that that they can enjoy their Christmas dinner is sometimes the best present they receive."
He says a healthy mouth is an important part of overall health. Schoenberg feels everyone deserves a healthy smile.
"For individuals who have physical, medical or cognitive challenges, it can be difficult, impractical or even impossible to get to a dentist's office," he said. And he's made it his career to exclusively treat this population.
"This Christmas I saw fewer patients than in years past," Schoenberg said. "I am hoping this is due to the fact that the holiday fell on a weekend, allowing more families the ability to spend time with their shut-in relatives.
"Better yet, maybe I reached more patients during this calendar year than in years past."
Schoenberg became a dentist in 1985, and he almost immediately began working in this niche market. In the summer of 1989, he bought Visiting Dental Associates and became its clinical director.
The business model has been a successful one. The business has grown exponentially, he said. In late 2014, it was acquired by a company called Mobile Care, based out of Neptune, which provides a variety of on-site medical services: dentistry, but also optometry, podiatry and audiology services.
The Neptune location is the business office, Schoenberg said. He uses his home as his hub -- his home base, if you will, for all the remote dentistry he does. Most of his patients are in Bergen and Passaic counties, as well as New York's Rockland County.
The dentists of Visiting Dental Associates visit patients not only in private homes, but also in retirement communities, assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities.
"My experience in the field has brought an extensive knowledge base of the specific and unique concerns that affect this population," Schoenberg said. "Proper dental care allows these patients to eat, smile and talk comfortably."
There are also currently two multi-lingual dentists in the practice, fluent in Portuguese and Hebrew. The additional languages of course change from time to time, with staffing changes.
Schoenberg also provided a list of signs and symptoms that people should never ignore, as they can be signs of more serious issues:
- an inability to drink hot or cold beverages, or to enjoy sweets;
- pain during chewing;
- red, swollen or tender gums;
- gums that bleed when teeth are brushed;
- white, scaly patches inside mouth or on lips;
- numbness or pain in the mouth or throat without cause;
- brown stains on the teeth;
- persistent pain in the mouth or sinus area;
- loose dentures or partial dentures; and
- signs of dry mouth.