More than 800 residents receive free dental treatments
Missions of Mercy provides extractions, other care to region’s underserved
The gymnasium of North Point High School was turned into a giant dental clinic as more than 800 uninsured and underinsured adults from around the region received free dental fillings, extractions and root canals last weekend, thanks to local nonprofits.
“These people have no insurance, no money. They’re a portion of America that most people don’t see,” said Dr. Garner Morgan, co-chairman of Southern Maryland Missions of Mercy. “These are some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”
More than 200 dentists and hundreds of other volunteers served those in need of dental care all day Friday and Saturday, hosted by the Southern Maryland Missions of Mercy and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington.
This is the third year the Missions of Mercy dental clinic has taken place in Southern Maryland, but there have been other Missions of Mercy dental clinics in other parts of the state, said Dorothy Harper, Southern Maryland Missions of Mercy spokeswoman.
Hundreds of people lined up at the school before doors opened at 6:30 a.m. Patients went through health screenings before being brought to the gymnasium. Services were first come, first served, Harper said.
In the gymnasium, volunteers performed teeth cleaning and X-rays before patients were examined by dentists.
“Pretty much any service a regular dentist would provide, we can provide here,” Harper said.
No proof of income or lack of insurance was required, Morgan said.
“All we need to see is an ID, so we know who you are, in case there’s an emergency or something,” Morgan said.
He said the dental care comes at no cost to the patient, being performed entirely by volunteers and funded through donations and grants.
“For every dollar they give me, I can do $17 of dental work,” Morgan said.
He said it takes three days to transform the gym into a dental clinic, but that the labor is also provided by volunteers, with local businesses donating food.
Harper said dental care is extremely important, but it often gets overlooked by individuals who cannot afford adequate dental insurance coverage and have other pressing financial needs.
“I don’t think most people realize how much dental health affects their whole health, their whole body’s health, and this is something they can do easily enough,” Harper said.
Delegate Sally Jameson (D-Charles) visited the dental clinic Friday morning.
“I think this is great, and I’m glad to see it in Southern Maryland,” Jameson said.
More than 800 people were treated in two days during the Missions of Mercy free dental clinic held in the North Point High School gymnasium July 29-30.
Teeth cleanings were part of the services provided during the Missions of Mercy free dental clinic held July 29-30 at North Point High School.