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Action for Dental Health

Maryland Dentists Provide Care for the Underserved during Mission of Mercy

August 12, 2014

Dentists participating in the second annual Southern Maryland Mission of Mercy provided complimentary dental care to about 700 people.

“Many of these people are hard-working Americans who just don’t have dental care,” said Dr. Garner Morgan, director of the Southern Maryland Mission of Mercy. “These people are really struggling. They have kids, and they need clothing, housing and food.” 

Nearly 100 dentists and about 40 dental students participated in the event, which was held July 18-19 at North Point High School in Waldorf. 

“The dental students play an integral role in making these events successful,” said Dr. Morgan.

Dental services included cleanings, fillings and extractions. The clinic had offered denture repair and fittings in the past, but was unable to offer that service this year.

“We didn’t provide denture services this year because of the amount of time it takes to create quality dentures,” said Dr. Morgan. “On the other hand, that meant that we had more time to see more patients, and that’s very rewarding.” 

Seven people had to be taken to hospitals, including a volunteer who suffered a heart attack, and a woman who went into labor. Many people who seek care at Missions of Mercy often suffer from other medical conditions, Dr. Morgan noted.   

“These people have trouble moving from chair to chair at the event,” he said. “Life is more of a struggle for them than it is for most other people.”

One particular patient shared his heart-wrenching story.

“This gentleman needed a root canal, and he told us that his 10-year-old daughter was waiting for a liver transplant,” Dr. Morgan said. “He said that his family was going to a fundraiser later that day to help defray the cost of the transplant.”

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.

The next event is the Mid-Maryland Mission of Mercy, which is scheduled to take place Sept. 5-6 at the University of Maryland’s Comcast Center, located in College Park.

The successes of Missions of Mercy rely in part on donations. To learn more about how you can help, visit the Maryland State Dental Association website.