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A-B Tech hosts state’s second-largest dental clinic

August 17, 2010

Before - Teresa Maynor of Candler had a broken tooth she need fixed in order to find good employment.

After - Maynor was able to get the smile she wanted at the North Carolina Dental Society's Missions of Mercy free dental clinic at A-B Tech Aug. 13 and 14.

A-B Tech hosted the North Carolina Dental Society’s second-largest Missions of Mercy (MOM) free dental clinic Aug. 13 and 14, providing about $400,000 worth of care to nearly 900 people.

Forty dental chairs filled A-B Tech’s gym holding patients in need of fillings, extractions and other services. “This was the second-largest clinic ever held in North Carolina, and would have been the largest if we had more chairs,” said Dr. Jack Teague, III, an Asheville dentist, A-B Tech Foundation board member and local MOM steering committee chair.

Teresa Maynor of Candler found her dental woes were costing her employment. She signed up with a temporary placement agency, impressing with her clerical skills, but when it came to the face-to-face interview things fell apart. “My tooth was broken and I was embarrassed about it. I was told I could be put in data entry to work by myself. I knew it was because of the tooth. I do believe appearances count,” she said.

Maynor came to the clinic hoping to have at least the one tooth fixed. Dr. Teague surprised her by saying he would take care of her and make a partial denture for her. “I felt like I was treated with kindness from in the door to out the door in everyway. Everyone smiled at me, said they want to help me, and would do anything for you. It meant everything to me. It meant I could go Monday to that temporary service and say ‘I am ready to work.’ I can smile and not have to be embarrassed. I feel like I can do anything,” she said.

In addition to the state Dental Society and A-B Tech, the clinic was offered in conjunction with the local Dental Society, Eblen Charities, Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministry, and others. The more than 250 volunteers included dentists, hygienists, assistants, lab technicians, students and community members.

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 its 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 another example of the concern and commitment the college has for our community,” said Teague.

Taylor Reed drove 250 miles from Raleigh to be in line by 6 p.m. the night before the clinic, and slept outside on a concrete sidewalk. “It's worth whatever I have to go through. I can hardly eat anything,” said Reed, who had four impacted wisdom teeth. 

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.

“Forty dentists signed up for the Asheville event, more than any other MOM. The North Carolina Dental Society is extremely grateful to all those who are involved. It was a wonderful event to help those in need 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.

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Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate degrees, diplomas and certificates.  Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.

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