Two local organizations devoted to helping low-income residents care for their teeth are the recent recipients of grants that will boost their mission.

The Berkshire Eagle reports the Massachusetts Dental Society Foundation has awarded $16,000 to Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires so the Great Barrington-based medical and dental organization can add extra dental hygienist hours to support the all-volunteer dentist staff at its free dental clinic.

And Hillcrest Dental Care, Inc. in Pittsfield received $20,000 to buy a portable dental unit to travel to children across the county who do not have access to a dentist.

The unit, which Hillcrest says could serve more than 400 children in its first year, will also be transported to schools, places of worship, and organizations like Head Start, the Salvation Army, as well as Hillcrest Educational Center's programs for young people with a variety of disabilities.

For Volunteers in Medicine, their free dental program is fast expanding to support patients who can't afford a dentist, some of whom have never seen one. About 200 new patients will likely come through VIM's doors this year and many will require elaborate dental work that will take months to complete.

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