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Sunset Hills dentist gives free care to people with Down syndrome

'Give Back Thursdays' were inspired by the dentist's son

SUNSET HILLS, Mo. — A dentist in Sunset Hills is using her gift to give back to the Down syndrome community. 

Dr. Julie Hotz-Sudekum’s son Pete inspired her to start something called 'Give Back Thursdays.'

“My oldest son Pete was born with Down syndrome 12 years ago," Dr. Hotz-Sudekum explained.

Credit: Dr. Hotz-Sudekum

She said so many people have helped her son through the years and Pete wouldn’t be where he is today if it weren’t for all those people. 

She always knew she wanted to find a way to pay it forward and a few years ago she started 'Give Back Thursdays.' The first Thursday of every month Dr. Hotz-Sudekum offers free dental care to people with Down syndrome.

“It's been a privilege to help out this community because you know Pete has brought so much joy to our family and I think a lot people with down syndrome are misunderstood," she said.

Credit: Dr. Hotz-Sudekum

In her office they’re not only understood, but they are made comfortable. From the moment these patients step into the office, Dr. Hotz-Sudekum, and her dental hygienist Samie, welcome them with open arms.

“A lot of them get very nervous about things in their mouths, about the vibration, laying back in the chair, the whole experience. You kind of learn to desensitize these guys,” she said. 

Christa Roth, 29, was one of Dr. Hotz-Sudekum’s first patients when 'Give back Thursdays' started two years ago. Her mother, Eileen goes into the room with her daughter so can comfort her during the cleaning.

Eileen was almost brought to tears when she spoke about the impact this has had on her and her family. She says they went through three dentists before finding one her daughter was comfortable with.

"There's no money ever talked about. No fees, it’s just amazing. I’m just really, really happy about it," Eileen said.

Dr. Hotz-Sudekum says the Give Back Thursdays are some of the best days of the month for the staff at Sunset Hills Dental Group. She says she’d love to help out even more people if she can.

"If every dentist, physician, just person could figure out a way just to give back in their own little way, there wouldn't be that much of a need any more in our community," said Hotz-Sudekum.

If you would like to receive care from this dentist you can contact her office at 314-842-5000.

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