December 22, 2014
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Volunteers needed for 2-day effort to bring free dental services to an estimated 500

To better improve the oral health of individuals who cannot afford regular dental visits, the Rhode Island Mission of Mercy, an organization that operates under the America’s Dentists Care Foundation and assists people without dental insurance, will hold a free dental health clinic June 2nd and 3rd at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Flanagan Campus at 1762 Louisquisset Pike in Lincoln.

After transportable equipment is set up, patient treatment will begin at 6 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. both days. The clinic will function on a first come, first serve basis.

While the event is a few months away, organizers expect to treat 500 patients in the course of two days and are in need of dental, medical and community volunteers.

According to Jeffrey Dodge, DMD, president of the Rhode Island Oral Health Foundation, as well as the Mission of Mercy dental clinic co-chair, 150 to 200 professionals, including general dentists, oral surgeons, endodontists, pediatric dentists,

prosthodontists and dental lab technicians, would be ideal to make the event as successful as possible.

Oral health professionals can claim continuing education credit for their community service time at the event.

Further, community volunteers are also needed to assist with crowd control, patient registration, patient escort, interpreter services, exit interviews, refreshments, setup and cleanup.

Volunteers are encouraged to sign up for at least one six-hour shift but may pick up more shifts if they like.

“It’s quite an undertaking,” Dodge said in a phone interview last week. “We can’t provide every service that you would achieve in a regular dental office, but we’re trying to return self-esteem to people so they are able to smile.”

Of the services provided, Dodge listed extractions of bothersome teeth, excluding wisdom teeth, cleanings, fillings, limited root canals on front teeth and limited denture repairs. The goal of the clinic is to not only help individuals maintain oral health, but also remind them of the importance of caring for their dental hygiene.

“Most of us enjoy the ability to go to the dentist if we have pain or discomfort and some people don’t,” Dodge said. “Parents often put themselves on the back burner in order to care for their children, but people need to understand that dentistry is important to their total health.”

Further, said Dodge, if anyone is dealing with a dental emergency, they should get it taken care of as soon as possible.

“June is a ways away, so we don’t want anyone with a dental emergency to wait for us in June,” he said. “ Seek treatment before this event.”

Mission of Mercy events have been taking place across the country since 2000. In the last 12 years, said Dodge, more than 135,000 patients have been treated through the program nationwide, which is an estimated $60 million in donated dentistry.

For more information, visit rimom.org.


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