Teeth can’t tell time: Dr. Robb gives athletes a smile

July 26, 2017 Blog, Featured

Dr. Warren and a patient at a Mission of Mercy event

Dr. Robb in one of his signature funny hats treating a patient at a Mission of Mercy event

When Dr. Robb Warren of Warren Family Dental in Madison learned that the Wisconsin Dental Association (WDA) would not be holding a Mission of Mercy in 2017, he knew he had to do something.

The Mission of Mercy had been an annual event that provided free, critical dental care to low-income patients and it had become an important resource for Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes with serious dental issues.

Dr. Robb (he goes by Dr. Robb instead of Dr. Warren) had participated in the Mission of Mercy the last eight years and had seen up-close how much of a positive impact it has had on SOWI athletes. So when it turned out it wouldn’t be happening in 2017, Dr. Robb came forward and volunteered his time and office to provide this care for athletes who were flagged as urgent at a Special Smiles event this past year.

“I’m part of the WDA Foundation and when I found out it wasn’t happening I was concerned as to what they were going to do. The (dental) problem is still there, the cavity doesn’t go away,” Dr. Robb said. “So when Missy (Melissa Schoenbrodt, director of Health Programs) and I sat down to lunch a couple months ago and talked about what we could do, to me it was a no-brainer.”

Volunteer dentists treat a SOWI athlete at the 2017 Give Athletes a Smile Day

Volunteer dentists treat a SOWI athlete at the 2017 Give Athletes a Smile Day

With that, Dr. Robb and Schoenbrodt set their sights on setting up a free clinic in his office and inviting dentists from around the area to come and volunteer their time to help SOWI athletes with urgent dental needs. On June 16, their idea came to fruition and SOWI Give Athletes a Smile Day took place at Warren Family Dental. 16 athletes received free dental treatment from five dentists and a hygienist.

This kind of generosity and service is all par for the course for Dr. Robb. In addition to his many years of work with Mission of Mercy, he has volunteered with Touched Twice Ministry Clinic in Madison for 13 years. But it was his Mission of Mercy experience that really cemented the importance of service and giving back for him.

“They came up with Mission of Mercy about nine years ago and I had an opportunity to go volunteer. It was supposed to be for a half-day and I ended up staying the whole weekend. I just loved it, I loved the feeling of helping,” Dr. Robb said. “I want them to be able to smile and to be able to eat with no pain and be able to function with a normal life. So the next year I went back to Mission of Mercy.”

Dr. Robb certainly hasn’t looked back since he fell in love with Mission of Mercy and the people he encountered in the clinics. “It’s just a genuine passion for other people,” said Dr. Robb’s wife, Erin, about his commitment to providing free treatment. “You walk around the streets and you can see people who are embarrassed about their smile or people who have had no care and they come in and they’re super afraid. And he puts people at ease immediately when they walk in.”

Thankfully this time around, it was SOWI athletes that Dr. Robb was able to put to ease at his Give Athletes a Smile Day. Through his generosity, along with that of his team of volunteers, athletes with urgent dental needs were able to get treatment despite Mission of Mercy not taking place this year.

While the WDA will be holding a Mission of Mercy again in 2018, Dr. Robb’s Give Athletes a Smile Day was great relief for the many athletes with severe dental issues who likely didn’t look forward to the prospect of waiting another year for treatment. As Dr. Robb likes to tell his patients: “teeth can’t tell time.”

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