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ADA MOM event a magical success

November 04, 2013

By Kelly Soderlund, ADA News staff

A thousand helping hands: More than 800 people were treated at the ADA MOM clinic Nov. 3 and more than 1,100 dentists, dental team members and others volunteered. Photos by EZ Event Photography 

Leaders pitching in: ADA President Robert Faiella, left, Irene Campbell, who played the tooth fairy, and ADA President-elect Charles Norman pose at the charity dental clinic.

New Orleans—The place where Fat Tuesday comes to life, Mardi Gras World is magical in and of itself.

But in the warehouse where Mardi Gras parade floats are constructed every year, a different kind of magic happened Nov. 3. Mardi Gras World played host to the first ADA Mission of Mercy charity dental clinic, held in conjunction with Annual Session.

More than 800 people were treated, receiving services such as cleanings, restorative and specialty care, dentures, X-rays and more. More than 1,100 dentists, dental team members and others volunteered for the event.

“This is a great success,” said Lani Becker, who coordinated the MOM event and is the associate executive director of the Wisconsin Dental Association and board member for America's Dentists Care Foundation, which hosted the event in conjunction with the ADA and the support of the Louisiana Dental Association and the New Orleans Dental Association. “We had three goals going into the event: raise enough money to support it; recruit enough volunteers to staff it; and treat around 1,000 patients. We've met all of those goals.”

People began lining up outside of Mardi Gras World at 5 p.m. Nov. 2, spending the night outside and eagerly waiting to see a dentist. Meriam Wright, 56, was the first in line, and with only six top teeth and four bottom teeth, she wanted to have a full set so she could properly eat. Ms. Wright said she's a diabetic and because she doesn't have many teeth, she has to stick with soft foods, which often means unhealthy fast food.

The warehouse was a sea of dental chairs and people with the sound of suction and buzzing filling the air. Musicians played while people waited in a tent outside to register, and there was a separate area for children who came to be treated.

A new day, a new tooth: Charles Whitley shows off his new smile.
The magic really started around 2 p.m. Nov. 2, when Charles Whitley, 53, received a phone call saying he could soon be out of pain. Mr. Whitley works for Freeman, a trade show management company the ADA hired for Annual Session.

He had been complaining of a bad toothache for the past two months and by being around the right people at the right time at Annual Session, Mr. Whitley was connected to a dentist and ultimately the MOM event. A volunteer dentist pulled two of his teeth Nov. 2 and took an impression of his mouth so that a retainer with a new tooth could be made overnight.

Mr. Whitley, who has 10 children and no regular dentist or dental insurance, went to the MOM clinic Nov. 3 to receive a cleaning and to get his new tooth.

“That looks good,” Mr. Whitley said while looking in the mirror. Upon leaving, he gave Janis McClelland, a volunteer dental hygienist from Sandpoint, Idaho, a big hug, thanking her for cleaning his teeth.

“It was certainly my pleasure to treat someone so pleasant,” a teary-eyed Ms. McClelland said. “This is what it's all about; to help someone like that.”

Thirty-three years without teeth … until now: Dr. Dick Hettinger, left, fits Walter Maggard for dentures. 
Walter Maggard, 58, is someone else who just happened to be at the right place at the right time. Mr. Maggard hadn't had any teeth for 33 years and both he and his wife, Kathryn Maggard, 58, are disabled, don't have a dental home and can't afford to see a dentist.

“It's just not in my budget,” Mr. Maggard said.

A member of the Lions Club, Mr. Maggard was at a meeting where Dr. Maria Burmaster, the New Orleans Dental Association's MOM chair, spoke about the event to recruit volunteers and donations. After her speech, Mr. Maggard tapped Dr. Burmaster on the shoulder and asked her if the clinic provided dentures.

She invited him to come to her practice, where she took impressions of his mouth and had dentures made to be ready in time for the event. At the MOM clinic, Dr. Burmaster discovered that Ms. Maggard's lower dentures weren't fitting properly, so she was also seen by Dr. Dick Hettinger, state chair of the Iowa Dental Association's MOM program.

“Both of them will walk out with a full set of teeth today,” Dr. Burmaster said.

ADA President Robert Faiella and President-elect Charles Norman visited the clinic and talked with some patients who were eagerly awaiting treatment and grateful for the services being offered.

“It's important to shine a spotlight on the need for oral health care,” Dr. Norman said.

“It's a critical event for those who desperately need it,” Dr. Faiella said.

Nicole Tamara, 23, was someone in desperate need. Ms. Tamara just started working at a resort but hasn't been with the company long enough to receive dental insurance. She's been in pain for awhile and couldn't wait until January when her benefits kick in.

Ms. Tamara said she doesn't have a regular dentist and already spent $1,000 on care last month but needed a filling. She arrived at the MOM event around 5:15 a.m. and spent more than six hours at the clinic.

“This was a huge blessing to me,” Ms. Tamara said. “It took a long time but I'm very thankful.”

The below sponsors contributed funds, products and services to the ADA MOM event:

• CareCredit;

• Church & Dwight Company, Inc.;

• Colgate-Palmolive Company;

• Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana;

• Delta Dental of California;

• DentaQuest;

• Freeman Decorating Services, Inc.;

• Henry Schein Cares Foundation;

• Mardi Gras World;

• Patterson Foundation;

• Acadian Ambulance;

• Aribex;


• Entergy;

• Fortress Insurance;

• Henry Schein Dental;

• Iberia Bank;

• Johnson & Johnson;

• Kerr;

• Kerr Total Care;

• Lands' End;

• Loop Linen;

• Louisiana Dental Association Foundation;

• Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Dentistry;

• Patterson Dental;

• Pot-O-Gold Waste;

• Salvation Army;

• SS White Burs.