Dental Society brings free clinic to A-B Tech

August 4, 2010

Photos: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Forty dental chairs will fill A-B Tech’s gym in the Coman Student Center next week, waiting for patients in need of a cleaning, fillings and other services. The North Carolina Dental Society will bring its Missions of Mercy, a free dental clinic for the community, to A-B Tech's Asheville campus from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug 13 and 14.

In addition to the state Dental Society and A-B Tech, the clinic is offered in conjunction with the local Dental Society, Eblen Charities, Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministry, and others. More than 40 dentists will volunteer their services, along with dozens of hygienists, assistants, lab technicians, students and members of the general public. The volunteers are expected to provide $350,000 to $400,000 worth of dental care to up to 1,000 people during the two-day event.

Missions of Mercy, or MOM, are sponsored by the North Carolina Dental Health Fund, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization whose mission is to provide free dental services to those in financial need with few or no other options. The program is a grassroots effort that depends on volunteers, with funding from grants and donations. Since its beginning seven years ago, the program has received national and statewide recognition.

“For years, A-B Tech and the A-B Tech Foundation have worked diligently to make our community a better place to live and work.  A-B Tech's willingness to host this event is but another example of the concern and commitment that the college has for our community,” said Dr. Jack Teague, III, an Asheville dentist and MOM steering committee chair.  

In 2003, MOM organizers observed a free dental program of the Virginia Dental Association where portable dental equipment was used by volunteers to provide treatment to needy individuals in different areas of that state. Using equipment borrowed from Virginia while buying their own equipment with grants and donations, they began offering the two-day clinics in North Carolina in early 2004.

Currently, NCMOM has enough equipment to set up a 45-chair full dental clinic, including digital x-ray, sterilization, and all instrumentation and supplies. Through the end of 2009, more than 75 two-day clinics had been held across North Carolina, from Murphy to Kill Devil Hills, with more than $7 million in free dental care provided to more than 22,000 North Carolinians.

“More dentists have signed up for the Asheville event than any other MOM. The North Carolina Dental Society is extremely grateful to all those who are involved. It will be a wonderful event to help those in need and the less fortunate within our area,” Teague said.

Although NCMOM primarily limits its clinics to helping citizens of North Carolina, it participated in a 65-chair clinic in New Orleans during February 2006 in partnership with the American Dental Association, the Virginia Dental Association, Remote Area Medical of Knoxville, the Louisiana State Dental Association, and the LSU School of Dentistry. During this weeklong clinic, free dental treatment was provided to more than 3,600 needy individuals and hurricane victims in that area.

To learn more about receiving treatment or serving as a volunteer during the A-B Tech clinic, visit http://www.ncdental.org/ncds/NCMOM.asp?SnID=1065378988.

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