Pacific Dental Services knows well that smiles play a big role in first impressions.
The Irvine-based dental support organization or DSO—which builds and manages office practices for dentists, taking care of just about everything except the actual dentistry—encourages clinicians it partners with to restore smiles for those in need.
Since the organization established Smile Generation Serve Day in 2011, PDS-supported dentists and clinicians have performed nearly $87 million of pro bono dentistry, according to Kyle Guerin, director of corporate social responsibility at PDS and executive director of the company’s nonprofit, the PDS Foundation.
“Whether it’s growing up in poverty and not having good oral health habits, or damage caused by drug use, the impact we can have on their lives is astounding,” Guerin told the Business Journal.
“By giving them a new smile, we can help them get a job, build their confidence or overcome their fears.”
That’s not all PDS does to serve the community. This year alone, the company gave over $100,000 in cash and in-kind donations to groups within Orange County.
It’s also a financial supporter of several charitable organizations, including Special Olympics International, Charity Water, KABOOM!, and After Innocence.
Its initiatives underpin its founding framework dubbed the Three Ds: “dentistry, donate and do something.”
“Who we are as an organization is to serve,” Guerin added. “Our president and CEO Stephen Thorne is leaving a legacy beyond just a profitable business. We want to leave a legacy of service, and know we left an impact on the world around us.”
Since Thorne founded PDS in 1994, it’s grown to become the third-largest DSO in the nation, with over 850 offices in 25 states.
“It’s an incredible organization that’s grown from the ground up,” said Guerin, who has been with the company for 12 years. “It’s a testament to Steve’s leadership and team.”
According to Guerin, the PDS Foundation has three main programs: Special Needs Dentistry, Dental Assistant Scholarships and International Service Trips.
The special needs dentistry program, its most comprehensive offering, aims to improve care for individuals with disabilities by training dental professionals and advocating for the special needs community.
“Sadly, individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities have been under-cared for far too long,” Guerin said. “This amazing group of individuals is getting these challenges brought to the open.”
The foundation last month completed a virtual 5K called the Stroll for Special Needs, which raised over $210,000 for the cause.
Another initiative is $5,000 scholarships, which are granted to those interested in becoming dental assistants; 50 have been given away this year, according to Guerin.
PDS employees are also encouraged to visit PDS Foundation’s dental clinic in Guatemala four times per year.
“Our hope is to be sustainable, not just fly in, do some work and fly out,” he said.
National Support Center
To encourage community aid, PDS offers its employees eight hours of paid volunteer participation in areas of their choice, including homeless shelters, food pantries and animal shelters.
“Maybe you spend three hours cutting onions at Bracken’s Kitchen to provide a meal for the homeless, but it means so much more to see the impact you had on the lives of other people,” Guerin said. “Being in the HR or accounting side of the healthcare business, we don’t always see the impact of the patients. This opportunity to help others in a different way is always a great blessing for those who get to do it.”
Officials also organize monthly volunteer opportunities at the company’s National Support Center in Irvine, where quarterly blood drives and collection drives for nonprofit partners are held. Over 125 Orange County-based employees have participated to date.
“There are a number of things that can be done, but it takes a dedicated clinician and team. Through that care, we allow people to become healthier and happier.”