“As dental professionals, Katie and I know first-hand how important oral hygiene is. We knew that contacting our local homeless shelters would be a good way to reach people in need of oral care products.”

Ally Bihary wanted to help the community. And, with her friend and fellow pre-dental student Katie Fasel, she did just that. Ally and Katie collected and assembled 152 oral hygiene kits with toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash in each. The kits were then donated to Catholic Charities Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, R.K. Agarwal M.D. & Family Teen Center & Shelter, and Family Services, Inc. in Altoona.

“A lot of people cannot afford to purchase oral health kits or products,” Katie said. “We all know that poor oral hygiene can lead to gum disease and tooth decay when left untreated, so donating these packages could help someone’s overall well-being!”

Ally agreed. “Altoona’s city water doesn’t have any added fluoride (besides trace amounts found naturally), so using a fluoride toothpaste daily can help protect from decay. Studies show gum disease to be associated with heart disease, preterm low birth weight, and even Alzheimers.”

Recently, Katie and Ally also assisted with Mission of Mercy Pittsburgh, a free dental clinic that provides oral care to underinsured individuals in the Pittsburgh area. At the clinic, Ally assisted other hygienists in offering routine cleanings, while Katie helped dentists in the periodontal and imaging department.

Caption: (Left) Katie and Ally with Lisa Sellabaum of Catholic Charities Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown; (Right) Katie and Ally and Lisa Hann of Family Services, Inc.