As part of my mission to give back to the community, I recently participated in the Iowa Mission of Mercy (IMOM), which is an annual event that provides free dental care to those in need. The IMOM is sponsored by the Iowa Dental Association (IDA) and was first held in 2008 in Waterloo, Iowa – the sister city to Cedar Falls where I practice. The event rotates around to the major cities of Iowa, and this year, it was located back to Waterloo. I have participated each time it has been in Waterloo and plan to participate in future IMOMs across the state.
This year over 1,000 dentists, dental assistants, dental hygienists, laboratory technicians, and lay volunteers served over 1,000 patients. This totaled to over 6,000 dental procedures worth over $700,000. The clinic hours were from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, September 26th and Saturday, September 27th. There were long lines of people interested in treatment, with some patients even lining up the evening before the event.
As with any type of dental mission trip, the experience was extremely rewarding to use our talents and skills to serve those less fortunate than ourselves. We served those who do not have dental insurance and fall through the cracks of the federal welfare system. This is a group of people that I just do not have the opportunity to routinely see in my dental practice. Many of these people had serious dental issues causing them long-term pain due to extensive decay, as well as abscessed teeth resulting in the loss of normal function. We were able to provide dental cleanings, root canals, tooth colored (composite) and silver (amalgam) fillings, extractions and even fabricate partial dentures and repair dentures.
My favorite part of any mission experience is to make a positive impact in someone’s life that really needs help; to provide that care in a kind, empathetic, dignified and loving way; and to experience the heartfelt gratitude from the patient in return.
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