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‘Their enthusiasm is contagious’

Iowa MOM event volunteers provide $875K in dental care for patients

October 17, 2016

By Michelle Manchir

Dubuque, Iowa — For many of the patients at the Sept. 23-24 Mission of Mercy event here, it was the first time they’d had access to dental care in many years  — or ever.

Dental volunteers provided cleanings, restorations, extractions and more to 919 people over two days at the clinic organized by the Iowa Dental Foundation.

More than 180 dentists from all over Iowa and a few from surrounding states provided about $875,000 in care, said Kathy Salisbury, program manager at the Iowa Dental Foundation who, along with a local committee, organized the fundraising, arrangements and volunteers for the clinic held at the Five Flags Center in downtown Dubuque.

 “Iowa MOM makes a big difference in the patients’ lives,” she said. “Most of our patients cannot afford dental care and have been living with diseased teeth and gums for a long time. Iowa MOM is vital to helping them get back to better health. I am always touched to see patients after they have gotten a ‘flipper.’ When they see their complete smile for the first time, their enthusiasm is contagious.”

More than 120 patients were provided with flippers (removable partials), Ms. Salisbury said.

Furthermore, more than 1,000 community volunteers helped out during the two days, Ms. Salisbury said. Many of the volunteers return each year for the event to help.

“It’s the reward of seeing people’s lives improved when they leave. These are people that maybe haven’t ever been to a dentist — or they can’t afford it,” Ms. Salisbury said. “To talk to them and see their smiles when they leave and know their lives are going to be better because we’ve gotten rid of their dental problems — I think that’s why volunteers come back.”

The Dubuque event is the ninth Mission of Mercy organized by the Iowa Dental Foundation. The event next year, for its 10th anniversary, will be in Cedar Rapids, Ms. Salisbury said.

For more information about the Iowa Dental Foundation, visit