Volunteer Dentists Provide More Than $850,000 in Free Care at Missouri Mission of Mercy.
More than 850 underserved adults and children received more than $850,000 worth of free dental care this past Friday and Saturday, thanks to the Missouri Dental Association Foundation’s Missouri Mission of Mercy (MOMOM) charity dental clinic in St. Louis, at the Chaifetz Arena on the Saint Louis University campus.
Around 700 volunteers, including dental health professionals and community volunteers provided free oral health services, including:
- 1,088 diagnostic x-rays
- 606 cleanings
- 615 fillings
- 1,162 extractions
- 114 root canals
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 facilitate improved oral health after the event.
“Even in our ninth year, the impact of an event like this continues to humble volunteers and patients, alike,” said Dr. Dean Telthorst, 2022 MOMOM co-chair. “Dentistry for low-income or no-income patients has always been a struggle. In a post-COVID world, it frequently seems impossible. For many who struggle with dental pain, there frequently is no help at all. We met patients who told us about their significant need for basic oral healthcare, and we worked side by side with volunteers who generously offered this gift to fellow community members. The positive influence of the past 48 hours will be felt in St. Louis and the metro area for some time to come.”
The high volume of patients participating in charitable clinics like MOMOM demonstrates the continued need for greater access to oral healthcare in the state. For various reasons, many Missourians go without basic oral preventative care, which often leads to costly emergency treatment.
The Missouri Dental Association (MDA) is hopeful recent increased funding for Medicaid will create positive changes for greater access to care.
“We are grateful Missouri lawmakers passed a budget this past session to better fund the state’s Medicaid program,” said Vicki Wilbers, MDA executive director. “The MDA has advocated for this for years because we believe it will increase the number of dentists who are Medicaid providers, thus increasing access for Missourians and savings for our state—because prevention of disease is increased and ER visits for dental pain is decreased.”
MOMOM is a large-scale dental clinic providing free oral healthcare to patients of all ages who cannot otherwise afford or access care. Nationwide since 2003, Mission of Mercy clinics have helped more than 254,000 patients and have provided nearly $166 million in free dental services. In Missouri since 2011, more than 7,500 dental and general volunteers have provided more than $7.1 million in free care to 11,454 patients. Visit momom.org for more information.