The Minnesota Dental Association and the Minnesota Dental Foundation are bringing the first Minnesota Mission of Mercy to Minnesota the weekend of August 17-18, to provide free dental care to children and adults who are uninsured, underinsured and not able to obtain dental treatment.
The Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato was chosen as the site to accommodate the massive dental clinic which will be staffed by more than 1,000 volunteers and will treat as many as 2,000 patients. The signature sponsor of the event is Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation.
Adults and children of all ages who do not have a medically compromising condition, such as extremely high blood pressure or diabetes, are welcome. There will be no photo identification, social security number or any other personal documentation required. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
“This is one more way we can make a difference in our communities and also highlight the large unmet need out there,” said Dr. Michael Zakula, a practicing orthodontist from Hibbing and president of the Minnesota Dental Association. “Minnesota does not have a system in place to make sure vulnerable people get the dental treatment they need.”
Free care being provided includes cleanings, fillings, extractions and limited treatment for partial dental appliances. There is no advance sign up and patients will be seen on a first come, first served basis each day. The doors open at 5:30 a.m. and early arrival is encouraged.
The free care is being provided by more than 1,000 volunteers, including dentists from Minnesota and surrounding states, as well as hygienists, dental assistants, translators and lay volunteers.
The outreach has been designed to provide care to 2,000 patients. Dental services not provided are implants, crowns and root canals on molars, full dentures and removal of unexposed wisdom teeth.
“This event will help alleviate the immediate oral health needs for 2,000 Minnesotans, but the work does not stop here,” stated Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. “I am committed to improving the lives of all Minnesotans, and that includes supporting and promoting good oral health care. I look forward to working with the Minnesota Dental Association and other stakeholders to implement long-term solutions that reduce barriers to care.”
This event is the culmination of more than two years of planning by Minnesota dentists who are concerned about the growing number of adults and children not receiving proper care. The Minnesota Dental Foundation has raised more than $315,000 in donations to cover the costs of the event. Major sponsors include Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, Walmart Foundation, Patterson Foundation and Mankato Clinic Foundation.
To learn more about the event, or to volunteer, go to mndental.org/mnmom.