Affordable Dental Care’s new CEO comes from humble beginnings.
“I lived in a very poor village, there was no electricity, no running water,” said Areli Estrada, who took over as head of the Madison association earlier this year. “These are my childhood memories. I have memories of my mother carrying buckets of water on her head. We would dig a hole like in our garden. She did the laundry by hand. So, I come from poverty, I saw it, I lived it. And I know what it is.
In 2009, Affordable Dental Care (ADC) was founded in Whitewater, WI to provide free dental care to communities in need. The dental clinic moved to Madison in 2018 and last August Estrada was appointed CEO. Estrada was born in Nayarit, Mexico, and her family moved early in her life to Los Angeles, California, in search of better opportunities.
Estrada’s work at CDA aligns with the clinic’s values of bringing hope, health and opportunity through quality dentistry to the uninsured at-risk population. They do not accept insurance and do not compete with private dentistry or government community health care, but rather exist to fill the void for patients who do not fall into any of these categories.
“And our mission at Affordable Dental Care is to bridge the gap and crisis in access to dental care,” said Estrada. “That is, in restoring the hope, health and desirability of quality dentistry, we do not accept any type of insurance. Thus, we serve the uninsured and at risk population. And the way we do it is a nonprofit partnership power model, which deals with anyone who has postponed dental care due to financial, physical, or educational hardship. We do a lot of preventive and restorative care. The population we serve is very complex. The undocumented population and the veterans too. We serve people who have retired and lost access to benefits. We are serving the working class, so we truly believe that we are working to close that gap. “
Although the CDA works hard and provides services, it is struggling to promote itself, Estrada said. They hope to grow and get more publicity to support the people they serve.
“We don’t have visibility in the community because we don’t have the capacity,” Estrada said. “We only have a dentist, a dental hygienist, two assistants and a manager. We are a small clinic, but our services are in high demand. The clinic moved to Madison in 2018. And we continue to experience high demand for our services this year. To date, at this time, we have already served the number of patients we served last year. We have served approximately 2,200 patients to date in 2021. And we still plan to serve an additional 500. Our number continues to increase.
The increase in the number of patients shows that their work is valuable and necessary to Madison, said Estrada.
“I am very passionate to be here,” said Estrada. “I’m really excited. I’m working with a very dedicated clinical team. And the way we see ourselves is that we are doing service to others. I feel like I’m a servant leader and it’s really a great job. And I do. hope that with my new role here, we will work towards our goal of growing in the future.
ADC organizes annual events to help raise funds for their work. Their fourth annual Smileathon race is Sunday November 14. In partnership with the Madison Marathon, CDA is hosting this event to raise awareness and fundraise to support the community work CDA does in providing affordable dental care to Madsisonians. Supporting their events provides funding to those in need of their services in the community.
Affordable dental care is located at 2110 Fordem Ave on the east side of Madison. To book an appointment in English call: (608) 622-4002 and in Spanish call: (608) 622-0034. For more information visit: http://www.affordablesmiles.org/.