“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping
a present and not giving it. “ William Ward
Posted By Dr. Dan Driscoll
On November 14 Dawn Grider, RDH; Mary Jane Miller, patient care coordinator; and I volunteered at the free dental clinic sponsored by the North Carolina Missions of Mercy (NC MOM), an outreach program of the N.C. Dental Society.
The dental clinic is a grassroots effort to serve people who can’t afford dental care with volunteer dentists and dental hygienists from across the state. This was the first year the program served people in Winston-Salem, and approximately 1,000 people came out for dental cleanings, extractions, fillings and more.
There are millions of Americans with no access or limited access to dental care. According to the 2012 report “Dental Crisis in America — The Need to Expand Access,” more than 47 million people live in places where it is difficult to access dental care, and about 17 million low income children received no dental care in 2009. Cavities are the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting almost 60 percent of children ages 5 to 17. And in 2009, there were more than 830,000 visits to emergency rooms across the country for preventable dental conditions in 2009.
Volunteering at the NCMOM free dental clinic is just one small way in which to give back to our local community and help those in need of dental care to obtain it. It is a way for us to express gratitude for all that we have been given by providing services to those who cannot afford them. One of the coolest aspects of volunteering with this organization was the camaraderie we felt with 80 other providers working equally as hard. Many hands truly does make light work — even when the work is not light at all! Because of the acute nature of many patients’ pain, as well as the dental neglect over time, the dentistry is much more difficult in this situation compared to a day in private practice. Thus, it was truly invigorating and inspiring to be doing volunteering with so many other people who were there to give back to our community, and it made the task much more manageable.
The NC MOM program is dependent on funding from charitable organizations, civic organizations, private corporations, personal donations and grants given to the NC Dental Health Fund, a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt organization. For information on how to make a tax deductible gift, click here.