Oral health is more than a nice smile.  Having good oral health improves a person’s ability to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, and eat.  Plus, tooth decay and gum disease have been linked with other health problems like heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as premature births.  Given the potential link between oral diseases and other systemic health problems, it is critical to maintain good oral health.   A startling 42% of Arizona adults over 65 years have lost 6 or more teeth due to decay or gum disease.  We know that nationally about half of people don’t have dental insurance and pay for dental care out-of-pocket.    

To help those who desperately need dental care, the Central Arizona Dental Society Foundation will host its first Mission of Mercy event at the Arizona Fairgrounds December 7-8 using portable dental equipment and 1,000 volunteers.   Dental screenings and services will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis, at no charge to those who attend.  Approximately $1M in free care is expected to be delivered to 2,000 patients (both adults and kids).  They’ll focus on basic dental care such as fillings, extractions and cleanings.  More than 70 Mission of Mercy dental programs have been conducted since 2000- providing free dental care to local residents who otherwise couldn’t get care. 

The Arizona event will focus on: 

  • providing free access to dental care while placing a high priority on     patients suffering from dental infections or pain;
  • raising public awareness of the increasing difficulty low-income adults and children face in accessing critical dental care; and
  • creating health care advocates via the hundreds of volunteers participating in the event. 

ADHS is supporting the event through Title V funds and providing health information and resources at the event.  To volunteer at the event, or to find out more information to refer potential patients, see http://azmom.org/.