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Action for Dental Health

Arkansas Dentists Provide Care to Nearly 2,000 People at Mission of Mercy Event

June 4, 2014

Dentists in Arkansas provided care to about 1,950 people during a two-day event held at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center in Springdale.

More than 850 volunteers, including about 140 dentists, donated their time and services to provide teeth cleanings, extractions and fillings on May 16 and 17 to people with no other way to receive dental care, according to Drew Ramey, assistant executive director of the state dental association.  

“Our dentists recognized that there’s a great need,” he said. “Regardless of what led patients to our doors, they deserve to be out of pain. We focus on making those people healthier, happier and more productive.”

The event has taken place in cities throughout Arkansas for the past eight years. Next year’s event will be held in Little Rock. 

Anecdotally, the number of children who seek care at Arkansas Mission of Mercy events has decreased during the past few years, Mr. Ramey said. And while there is no proven correlation between the declining numbers of children seeking care at Missions of Mercy and improvements to the state’s Medicaid provisions, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that Medicaid utilization among children was at 46.9 percent in 2013.

Mr. Ramey estimates that volunteers provided more than $1 million worth of care during this year’s event.

The Missions of Mercy concept started in Virginia and has spread throughout the United States. Since 2000, Missions of Mercy have served more than 143,000 people in 28 states across the country, providing about $90 million in free services. 

Dentists participating in the Arkansas Mission of Mercy also receive two continuing education credit hours for every half day they work at the clinic. Those credit hours go toward the total required for recertification.

“Due to the size, scope and unique experience of participating in the Arkansas Mission of Mercy event, what a dentist learns during those two days is beneficial to the public, to the profession, and ultimately to the dentist’s ability,” said Mr. Ramey.