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ADA – 2015 hosts third MOM event

November 09, 2015

By Jennifer Garvin

Photo of Audrey Cacanindin-Smith at the MOM event in Washington
First in line: Audrey Cacanindin-Smith arrived at 5:30 p.m. the day before the ADA Mission of Mercy in Washington. Photos by EZ Event Photography.
— He said he hadn’t smiled in years but that all changed when Eugene Cacanindin received a new set of dentures Nov. 8 at the ADA Mission of Mercy at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

“This is great,” said Mr. Cacanindin.

“It’s the best thing to happen to me today,” declared Dorothy Thomas, a grandmother of five, who knew she needed a tooth pulled, but was experiencing financial difficulties. “I’ve been in pain for months.”

Photo of Dorothy Thomas
Glad she came: Dorothy Thomas, 61, gets a panoramic digital X-ray taken during the ADA Mission of Mercy.
There were stories like this at every corner of the convention center, which hosted the third ADA Mission of Mercy charitable dental clinic. Some 700 patients received an estimated $475,000 in care from 575 volunteers during the event, which was part of ADA 2015 – America's Dental Meeting.

Mr. Cacanindin of Beltsville, Md., was the second patient treated after checking in at 5:30 a.m. (His sister, Audrey Cacanindin-Smith, was the first.) He said he arrived about 12 hours prior to the opening of registration — so excited to receive his new dentures.

“This is the first time I’ve smiled in years,” said Mr. Cacanindin, as he shared his story with an audience that included ADA President Maxine Feinberg and President-elect Carol Gomez Summerhays.

“That made my day,” said Dr. Feinberg of Mr. Cacanindin’s new smile.

Photo of Eugene Cacanindin and Dr. Mark Huberty
All smiles: Eugene Cacanindin, at right, gives the thumb’s up with Dr. Mark Huberty, a general dentist from Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Dr. Huberty placed the dentures Mr. Cacanindin received during the Nov. 8 ADA Mission of Mercy.
Calling the event a “highlight of her year as president,” Dr. Feinberg praised her fellow dentists for their dedication to charity.

“We are a very giving profession,” she said. “The MOM projects are just one example of dentists giving back to their communities in a very visible way. As one doctor told me, ‘We get more from volunteering than we can ever give back.’ ”

“This is who we really are,” added Dr. Mark Huberty, a general dentist from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, who placed Mr. Cacanindin’s dentures. “It’s always a team effort.”

Photo of MOM volunteer Dr. Monica Hebl, ADA President Maxine Feinberg and President-elect Carol Gomez Summerhays
Professional pride: MOM volunteer Dr. Monica Hebl of Milwaukee is flanked by ADA President Maxine Feinberg, at left, and President-elect Carol Gomez Summerhays.
For the patients treated, the event was not just a chance to receive free dental care, but a chance to recommit to their oral health care. The convention center’s temporary dental clinic housed areas for hygiene, extractions, restorations and other treatments, and also included a patient education section.

“I’m going to tell my grandchildren to make sure they brush and floss,” said Ms. Thomas, of Bladensburg, Maryland. “I’m going to tell them, ‘Don’t be like me.’ ”

“I’m going to take care of my teeth from now on,” vowed Reuben Fowler, who got up at 3 a.m. to make the 2.5 hour drive from his home in Farhan, Virginia. Mr. Fowler had tooth No. 28 extracted but left with a smile.

“I’m so glad I came,” he said.

For the majority of the volunteers, this was not their first foray into the MOM world or similar service project.

Photo of Dr. Terry Dickinson and Reuben Fowler
Dental triage: Dr. Terry Dickinson, executive director, Virginia Dental Association, explains what’s going on inside patient Reuben Fowler's mouth during the ADA Mission of Mercy. Mr. Fowler later received an extraction.
“There goes one of the best advocates out there,” said Dr. Summerhays, pointing at Dr. Monica Hebl of Milwaukee, a past chair of the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations, who saw patients nonstop during the 12-hour event.

“So many of the volunteers here are repeats,” said Dr. Summerhays, who has herself participated in five California MOM events and volunteered overseas. “It speaks to the heart of dentistry that we help in any way we can.”

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, predental students, medical professionals, friends and family members of volunteers, and others. For those patients in the D.C. area, follow-up care will be provided by Mary’s Center, a federally qualified health center.

Photo of Dr. Liliam Ortez and Reuben Fowler
Healing: Dr. Liliam Ortez of Puerto Rico performs an extraction on patient Reuben Fowler.
For the third year in a row, Colgate was the lead sponsor for the ADA MOM. Platinum Sponsors were Delta Dental, Great-West Financial, Henry Schein and KaVo Kerr Group. Gold Sponsors: Arm & Hammer, CareCredit, Freeman, Patterson Dental; Silver Sponsors: Affordable Dentures, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, SmartScrubs Inc., Wells Fargo Practice Finance; Bronze Sponsors: ACT, Benco Dental, International College of Dentists – U.S. section, Lands’ End, Larrel One Step Dentures, Procter & Gamble; Sponsors: Caremark, Mary’s Center, Sunstar Americas, and Thos. Somerville Co. Funding was also provided in part by a grant from the ADA Foundation.

The feeling that you have helped someone never gets old, said Dr. Gene Shoemaker of Waukesha, Wisconsin, summing up the event. The chair of this year’s event, Dr. Shoemaker has been a part of 25 previous MOM events and run three in his home state.

“We were setting up Saturday night, all of us tired, and when we walked outside [the convention center] around 9 p.m., we saw patients outside," he said. “That makes it all worthwhile.”

Dr. Summerhays agreed, and said, “This is not a hand out, this is a hand up."