Dentistry from the Heart

Local dentist’s charitable work shines on Valentine’s Day.
Dr. Scott Shamblott (right) and Dr. Kevin Sirmons

This Valentine’s Day, Shamblott Family Dentistry in Hopkins will open its doors for Dentistry from the Heart (DFTH). This national event provides dental procedures to un- and underinsured folks in need, free of charge.

For the day, Dr. Scott Shamblott, DDS, and his staff close the office to regular appointments, attending only to emergencies and those taking part in the event. There’s often a line outside before his office opens. Staff members offer each guest a free filling or extraction, depending on need.

“Dentistry has been really good to me and I was looking for a way to give back,” says Shamblott, a Plymouth resident. “The way it works, people come in, it’s first-come, first-serve, with the only qualification being people can’t be patients at my office.”

Shamblott joined DFTH in 2007, the first Minnesota practice to do so. Since then, he and his staff have provided more than $260,000 worth of dental work, seeing about 30 to 60 people each year.

With the influx of patients, the practice calls in extra hands to maximize the number of people treated. An emergency room physician, Dr. Kevin Sirmons MD, NRP has been part of DFTH with Shamblott since 2010. Sirmons serves as an aesthetician and medical consult to visitors who may have pre-existing health conditions.

“It’s a great service to the community. So many people have bad teeth and just can’t afford care. Doing what I do, in emergency medicine, someone’s mouth is really the gateway to their body, being able to eat and drink without pain,” Sirmons says.

Sirmons also explains that the aid of DFTH extends further. He uses the example of a visiting patient with high blood pressure, which inhibited their ability to perform treatment. The doctors agreed the patient could return in the future for free dental care with a lower blood pressure.

Both doctors talk of memorable experiences with patients over the years of DFTH, including many serious cases that would have been dire if not for the Valentine’s Day event.

“I wish there were more dentists willing to take a complete day off and see people for free that can’t afford it and are really in pain...These are people that really truly need it,” Sirmons says.

Shamblott’s outreach doesn’t stop at DFTH. In the weeks following Halloween, he runs a candy buy-back program, sending candy care packages to troops stationed overseas. The practice also hosts a Toys for Tots drop off during the holiday season.

In 2013, Shamblott started Operation Open Wide (OOW), in conjunction with Minnesota’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon. In the summer, this event offers free dental procedures to area veterans in need. In its first two years, OOW provided more than $100,000 in free dental care to dozens of vets.

“It’s really rewarding. I’ve met amazing people and heard amazing stories. Brings a tear to my eye; it’s really neat,” Shamblott says. “I value my personal freedom tremendously and anyone willing to put their life at risk to protect me or my family, I want to thank them as much as I can.”

Beyond charity work, Shamblott has written two books on dentistry. Fear-Free Dental dispels patient anxieties, while the recent Help My Tooth Hurts serves as a bedside diagnostic and pricing tool for common symptoms. Additionally, Shamblott can also be heard once a month on myTalk 107.1’s the Mom Show, discussing dental topics.

To learn more about Dentistry from the Heart and Operation Open Wide, and for Shamblott Family Dentistry’s regularly offered services, visit the website.

Open Mon–Thurs. 7 a.m.–7 p.m.,
Fri. 7 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Sat. 8 a.m.–4 p.m.