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By Dr. Karrishma Jumani                                Follow East Palo Alto Today on
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February 14, 2018                      EPA Today Facebook page Follow epatoday on Twitter EPA Today Blog Icon


Karrishma Jumani, dentist
Dr. Karrishma Jamani


Would you vote for a president without teeth?  Can you imagine Barack Obama becoming the president of the United States without teeth? What comes to your mind when you meet somebody without a front tooth? Did he get into trouble or is he an addict?  One out of four Americans is missing a tooth and a very small percentage have dental insurance.  Those who do have insurance often find it to be inadequate to cover their desired treatment.  Certain procedures like dental implants or full-mouth dentures can run several thousand to twenty-five thousand dollars. 

The reasons for the high costs are numerous.  New dentists often come out of dental schools with exorbitant amounts of student loan debt – think north of half a million dollars.  Real-estate and office setup in high cost areas like the Bay Area exacerbate the problem.  Dental supply companies routinely markup instruments and supplies by several hundred percent over their wholesale rates.  Regulations often require that dentists use only certain high cost products.  Dentists, faced with the pressures of running a practice or gathering enough patients to start recovering their costs, lack the time to find more economical alternatives.  Finally, the talent shortage we hear so much about in Silicon Valley isn’t restricted to the technology world.  Finding qualified and reliable dental assistants is a recurring theme for many dentists.  The net result to these factors is a lack of access to affordable dental care for many people.

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Meet Focuz!  This homeless San Franciscan was abandoned by his mother at the age of five. Focuz lost all his teeth due to periodontal disease. He is 67 years old and has not been able to eat meat for the past 8 years. Dentures consultations at dental offices gave him estimates for $3,500 to $20,000 (with 2 implants). Focuz could come up with $500 / month on a two-year plan, but nobody was willing to give him credit because he was homeless. Text Box: Focuz is homeless and lives in San Francisco. His only wish was to smile and eat normal food again.


The Ordemy Foundation was started to make dental treatments more accessible to people.  The Ordemy Foundation`s mission is to be able to restore dignity and self-worth among people who have no place to go to get their teeth fixed. The Ordemy team sets up a street-side facility on a sidewalk next to San Francisco City Hall once a month. 

Using a variety of techniques developed specifically to bring the cost of certain procedures down, the team delivers teeth to people at radically more affordable rates.  If for example, a patient has only $100 to spend, then the foundation provides a custom solution for $100.  Any difference between the payment and cost is borne by foundation donors or other patients. 

As the founder of the Ordemy Foundation, I think it’s pretty cutting edge. We had to rethink a lot of the traditional ways of doing things.  To date, many patients have paid a bit more than needed to enable the next patient to receive services.  “Paying it forward never felt so good," said one anonymous patient. 

And what about Focuz?  The Ordemy Foundation partnered with Taaya Lab in San Jose to make Focuz`s smile a possibility. With a custom designed full-mouth denture, he ate his first meal with meat after years and smiled like never before.  Focuz now plans on finding a job and a mate.  Good luck Focuz!


The Ordemy Foundation is looking for donors as well as staff to join its team in the San Francisco Bay Area.

For more information, visit:  http://youtu.be/kD8qoT5hQQw