More than 800 res­i­dents re­ceive free den­tal treat­ments

Mis­sions of Mercy pro­vides ex­trac­tions, other care to re­gion’s un­der­served

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JamieACIndyNews

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.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

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.

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