The North Carolina Dental Society will bring its Mission of Mercy, a free dental clinic for the community, to A-B Tech's Asheville campus from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 13 and 14. In addition to the state Dental Society and A-B Tech, the clinic is offered in conjunction with the local Dental Society, Eblen Charities, Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministry, and others.
Missions of Mercy, or MOM, are sponsored by the North Carolina Dental Health Fund, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization whose mission is to provide free dental services to those in financial need with few or no other options. The program is a grassroots effort that depends on volunteers, with funding from grants and donations. Since its beginning seven years ago, the program has received national and statewide recognition.
In 2003, organizers observed a free dental program of the Virginia Dental Association where a large amount of portable dental equipment was used by volunteers to provide treatment to needy individuals in different areas of that state. Using equipment borrowed from Virginia while buying their own equipment with grants and donations, they began offering the two-day clinics in North Carolina in early 2004.
Currently, NCMOM has enough equipment to set up a 45-chair full dental clinic, including digital x-ray, sterilization, and all instrumentation and supplies. Clinics generally have 20 to 45 chairs and services are provided for 300 to 600 patients during the two-day event. Volunteers include dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental students and members of the general public. During the A-B Tech event, chairs will be set up in the gym in the Coman Student Center.
Through the end of 2009, NCMOM had held more than 75 two-day clinics across North Carolina, from Murphy to Kill Devil Hills.
Although NCMOM primarily limits its clinics to helping citizens of North Carolina, it participated in a 65-chair clinic in New Orleans during February 2006 in partnership with the American Dental Association, the Virginia Dental Association, the Remote Area Medical of Knoxville, the Louisiana State Dental Association, and the LSU School of Dentistry. During this weeklong clinic, free dental treatment was provided to more than 3,600 needy individuals and hurricane victims in that area.
In the fall of 2009, the North Carolina Dental Society conducted its largest MOM clinic in North Carolina. Held in Rocky Mount, the clinic consisted of 62 dental stations and volunteers from all over the state who provided services to 970 needy patients.
Other large clinics have been held in Durham, Greensboro, Kill Devil Hills and Wilmington. Over the years, the program has continued to grow and the number of patients served has increased yearly. Through the end of 2009, more than $7 million in free dental care has been provided to more than 22,000 North Carolinians.
To learn more about receiving treatment or serving as a volunteer during the A-B Tech clinic, visit http://www.ncdental.org/ncds/NCMOM.asp?SnID=1065378988.