Hundreds of dentists, hygienists, dental team members, dental students and community volunteers recently served approximately 1,800 patients from underserved areas in the Philadelphia region at a two-day free dental clinic held at The Liacouras Center.
The MOM-n-PA event, a “Mission of Mercy” free dental clinic, was held May 31 and June 1 on the arena floor of the Liacouras Center, which was transformed into a full-service dental clinic with 120 dental chairs. Patients from underserved areas received a variety of oral health services, including cleanings, fillings, extractions, restorations and partial dentures.
MOM-n-PA Chairman Dr. Gary Davis, a dentist from Shippensburg, Pa., said patients overwhelmingly gave high ratings to the event during exit interviews. He related a story about a woman who tearfully thanked him for a partial denture, saying she is no longer afraid to smile.
“She said, ‘Finally, I can get a picture taken with my family, with the kids.’ She was so happy about that,” Davis said. “So, we are changing lives here.”
Dr. Bruce Terry, a dentist from Phoenixville, Pa, said the long lines of patients seeking free dental care shows there is a great need for oral health care in urban areas, as well as rural areas. Terry said there is a need for more federal and state funding to ensure that patients do not fall through the cracks.
“There are a lot of dentists out there, but unfortunately Medicaid doesn’t cover a lot of procedures anymore,” Terry said. “There is a big need to find financial support to help people.”
Dr. Renee Fennell-Dempsey, a dentist from West Philadelphia, noted that it took nearly 1,000 volunteers to make MOM-n-PA a success. Fennell-Dempsey thanked the volunteers for their dedication and service, and she urged others to get involved in future events.
“You do not have to be a dentist or a dental hygienist to volunteer. We need volunteers to help the patients fill out forms. We need translators to help patients who do not speak English. There is a lot to do at a free dental clinic,” Fennell-Dempsey said.
Davis estimated that dentists gave approximately $1 million in free dental services during the two-day dental clinic. He added that the cost of renting the arena, the equipment and other services to conduct the two-day clinic would run approximately $200,000. He noted that the MOM-n-PA received generous donations from several sources. A list of donors is available on the MOM-n-PA website at www.mom-n-pa.com.
At the event, patients were screened for high blood pressure, blood sugar and other medical conditions before being treated. After receiving treatment, the patients received information on good oral hygiene practices, healthy eating and low-cost medical and dental clinics in the region.
Davis said the MOM-n-PA free dental clinic was the first one held in Pennsylvania. He said the MOM-n-PA Board will discuss holding future events in other regions of the state. MOM events are held in about 20 states across the country. Since 2000, more than 100,000 patients have been served at MOM events, according to America’s Dentists Care Foundation.
MOM-n-Pa is a 501C-3 non-profit foundation dedicated to providing free dental services to underserved Pennsylvanians. You can learn about the nationwide effort at www.adcfmom.org. To learn more about MOM-n-PA as well, please visit www.mom-n-pa.com.