Elkton, MD – Wisdom tooth removal is a procedure performed on approximately 5 million Americans every year, but unfortunately, it’s one that many can’t afford.

However, thanks to a program run by the United Way of Central Maryland, many who can’t normally afford dental care or other health services are being taken care of.

Cecil County resident Amanda Blackburn is among those who are grateful to the service.

“The pain is so unbearable,” she said. “I’m tired of being in pain and then my car would break, and I had to fix my car and my kid needed this for school.”

For many, this situation is normal. Many people who stood in line waiting for services are homeless or just on the brink of it. This program is a huge relief and help to all of them.

Getting free dental care from both professionals and students was an opportunity they absolutely didn’t want to miss out on.

The program as a whole is called Project Homeless Connect, and is run through United Way of Central Maryland with the help of volunteers from the University of Baltimore and Maryland’s School of Dentistry.

The need for dental care is so serious that the program was spread out over two days to see all of those patients in need.

Dental care is an extremely important part of personal care, a fact which many people may not realize. However, Maryland has just received the opportunity to make that fact even more well-known.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has just received a $500,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The grant is part of a CDC initiative that aims to strengthen intra-department relations between oral health and chronic disease programs.

“The American Dental Association estimates 27 million people do not have a medical provider — so, a routine dental checkup is a perfect time to also take their blood pressure and to screen for them for hypertension,” said Dr. Greg McClure, dental director for the Office of Oral Health.

The overall goal of the project is to improve the health of individuals by recognizing and treating oral and chronic conditions through collaboration.

In the future, it may even become part of the United Way of Central Maryland’s health care program, which is now in its fifth year running.