Volunteer Dentists Provide More Than Half a Million Dollars in Free Care at Sixth Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic
More Than One Thousand Patients Served
(Joplin, Mo., June 10, 2017) — Approximately 1,200 underserved adults and children received more than $800,000 worth of free dental care this weekend, thanks to Missouri Dental Association (MDA) and MDA Foundation’s Missouri Mission of Mercy (MOMOM) charity dental clinic in Joplin, Mo.
More than 1000 volunteers, including dental health professionals and community volunteers, spent Friday and Saturday providing care, including:
- 900 cleanings
- 800 fillings
- 1,600 extractions
The MOMOM clinic provides access to dental care for individuals who might not otherwise receive these services. In addition, dental professionals provide all patients with oral health education to help facilitate improved oral health after the event.
“In 2011, the inaugural Missouri Mission of Mercy was held in Springfield. Since then clinics have been held in Cape Girardeau, St. Louis, Columbia and the Kansas City metro,” said Dr. Michael LaFerla, event co-chair. “We were glad to be back in Southwest Missouri. The Joplin community always rises to the occasion. Volunteers and sponsors gave time, talent and resources to help meet a significant need.”
The Need Is Great
Long lines, stacked with people waiting for dental care, formed the day before the event. It’s a visual representation of a significant problem: too many people are unable to access the dental care they need in Missouri. The demand for dental services caused by years of lack of coverage means many adults go without necessary treatment. Volunteers and organizers hope barriers to care are addressed as significant areas of concern by Missouri state leaders.
“No matter how much free care dentists give, volunteerism alone won't solve the problem because a charity care system is not a healthcare system,” said Dr. Prabu Raman, MDA president. “The high demand for services we saw over the past two days highlights the significant gap in care. Comprehensive solutions are necessary. MDA has been advocating for years to increase funding for dental care, as well as for community prevention efforts.”
“The need for oral healthcare in our state is great,” said Vicki Wilbers, MDA executive director. “MOMOM is one way dentists can provide some relief, but it’s not a complete solution. The MDA will continue to work with our state lawmakers to address the issues that prevent people from getting the dental health care they need.”
Plans are underway for MOMOM 7 to be held next August in Kirksville. For more information, visit www.MOMOM.org. For dental health fact sheets and education materials visit www.MouthHealthy.org.
The Missouri Mission of Mercy (MOMOM) is a large-scale dental clinic that provides free oral healthcare to patients of five and older who cannot otherwise afford or access care. Since 2000, Mission of Mercy clinics have provided nearly $159 million in dental services to more than 243,000 patients across the country. In Missouri, more than 6,000 dental and general volunteers have provided more than $5 million in free care to more than 9,500 patients. Visit www.momom.org for more information.
Mission of Mercy thanks all its sponsors who help make the clinic possible, including benchmark sponsors, Delta Dental of Missouri and Missouri Foundation for Health, and other top-level sponsors: Stericycle, Advanced Biohazard Cleanup, Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau, Southwest Dental Society and DentaQuest.