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'This was a blessing'

Mission of Mercy surpasses expectations, treating more than 1,200

October 13, 2014

By Stacie Crozier

Photo of MOM2014 event
New smile: San Antonio resident Erica Hinton gives a thumbs up after having extractions and restorations at the ADA Mission of Mercy Oct. 12 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. Her care providers, from left, include Dr. Raleigh Wright, Angier, N.C., and dental assistants Tuan Le and Marcissa Rogel. Photos by EZ Event Photography
San Antonio
— A handful of patients began lining up Saturday evening and by 7:45 a.m. Sunday, the line of patients waiting for dental care Oct. 12 wrapped from Market Street around the corner on Alamo Street around two sides of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

The second ADA Mission of Mercy charitable dental clinic was in full swing, employing 930 volunteers (including 161 dentists from San Antonio and across the U.S.), who were ready to mask and glove up to give back to the community that offered them generous hospitality during ADA 2014 — America's Dental Meeting. In total, 1,207 patients received dental treatment valued at $526,474.

The convention center's Ballroom A housed waiting areas for patient education, hygiene, extractions, restorations and other treatments, as well as registration, medical and dental triage, routing and digital radiography. Beyond the ballroom doors near the Alamo Street lobby area, some 100 dental chairs were filled with patients receiving cleanings, restorations oral surgery, endodontic and prosthodontic treatment — including six full sets of dentures.

Photo of MOM2014 event
Successful day: ADA Mission of Mercy chair Dr. John Schmitz, third from left, and vice chair Dr. Kerry Nelson, fourth from left, take a brief moment for a photo during the charitable dental clinic. The San Antonio dentists are flanked by, from left, Dr. Charles Norman, ADA president; Melissa Mitchell, a senior from Alamo Heights High School and San Antonio District Dental Society’s Miss Smile 2014; Dr. Lisa Masters, a San Antonio periodontist; and Dr. Maxine Feinberg, ADA president-elect.
"This is a blessing," said Erica Hinton, a San Antonio resident, after receiving extractions and restorations. "It's been a very good experience for me. Getting your teeth fixed makes you feel better, hopeful."

Ms. Hinton learned about the event from a flier distributed at her son's elementary school. She got in line at 7:30 a.m. and by noon her treatment was finished and her smile refreshed.

Local organizers showcased the city's outstanding coalition of community partnerships and made sure that volunteers would be engaged even at the beginning of the 5:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. clinic by screening more than 300 patients in the weeks before the MOM — giving them "gold card" status to be able to walk in early and go straight into the treatment area.

"The San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic screened about 300 patients ahead of time so they could come in and get treated right off the bat," said event chair Dr. John Schmitz, a San Antonio dentist. "This made it possible for us to engage our volunteers right away so they wouldn't have to wait for every patient to make their way through registration, charting and triage."

Photo of MOM2014 event
Good advice: A young patient shows off the 2min2x pin that Dr. Charles Norman, ADA president presented to him with a reminder to take care of his teeth.
SACDC is a partner organization in Bexar County's Haven for Hope, an organization that helps homeless individuals transition into job training, education and other services that give them a new beginning, said Dr. David Rickey, dental director.

"The dental clinic started in 1985 with one chair and three volunteer dentists in the basement of a local church," Dr. Rickey said. "Today, it has 16 chairs and nearly 100 volunteer dentists who last year served 2,300 patients and logged 7,300 visits." Dental students and dental hygiene students also do rotations at the clinic, he said.

"We have seen a burgeoning dental disease epidemic in our city, especially among immigrants who used to travel back to Mexico for more affordable dental care, said Dr. Kerry Nelson, a San Antonio dentist and event vice chair. "Now with gang violence escalating, having events like this one and having a charitable heart are a great way to bridge the gap for people who are in need of dental care."

Dr. Dr. Risé L. Martin, 2014 general chair of the Council on ADA Sessions' San Antonio Committee on Local Arrangements, not only invested her time and energy into making the annual meeting outstanding for her colleagues, she also worked closely with MOM organizers and even prescreened more than 30 patients in her Lakehills, Texas, dental practice.

Photo of MOM2014 event
Dr. Risé L. Martin, 2014 general chair of the Council on ADA Sessions’ San Antonio Committee on Local Arrangements, takes a break between treating patients at the ADA Mission of Mercy to show the restorative care area to ADA President-Elect Maxine Feinberg.
"My patients in Bandera County — about an hour's drive from here — aren't as privileged to have social services like Haven for Hope available to them, but we have a local medical clinic that refers patients in need of dental care to me. I am so glad to see them here today receiving the care that they need. This entire week, I have seen the dentists of this state open their arms to their colleagues and today to the citizens of San Antonio, and I hope this is the best Mission of Mercy ever."

The ADA MOM gave San Antonio dentists a chance to reenact their successful MOM event in 2012, said Linda Shafer, executive director of the San Antonio District Dental Society.

"Events like this bring so many of our members and local dental professions  students together to help, and we are happy to welcome volunteers from across the country," said Ms. Shafer. "Even our state Alliance is here, taking care of children for parents getting care, making balloon animals, handing out books and toys. We are all coming together to help at this terrific event.

Volunteers included dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental laboratory technicians, dental equipment technicians, other dental office staff, dental students, dental hygiene students, dental assisting students, pre-dental students, medical professionals and friends and family members of volunteers.

The generosity of MOM sponsors made the event possible. Those companies and organizations include Colgate, the lead sponsor for the event; Great-West Financial; Henry Schein; KaVo Kerr Group; Patterson Dental, The RK Group LLC; CareCredit; Church & Dwight; Freeman; Greehey Family Foundation; Henry Schein Cares Foundation; Patterson Foundation; Wells Fargo; SmartScrubs Inc.; All-Tex Supply Inc.; Benco Dental; DentaQuest LLC; Johnson & Johnson; Lands' End; Procter & Gamble; Premier Dental Products; San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic – Haven for Hope; Security Service Federal Credit Union; Greater San Antonio Hispanic Dental Association; Splintek Inc.; Sunstar Americas Inc.; and Whip Mix Corporation.

Photo of MOM2014 event
Mid-morning line: Patients wrap around two sides of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center during the ADA MOM event. A total of 1,206 patients received more than $526,000 worth of dental care at the all-day charitable dental clinic Oct. 12.