The Missouri Dental Association (MDA) and MDA Foundation will be hosting the state’s eighth Mission of Mercy (MOMOM) clinic at the Civic Arena in downtown St. Joseph, Aug. 16, to provide free dental care to the underserved in the area.

More than 700 volunteers will come together to make the event a reality, including dentists, dental hygienists, lab technicians, physicians, nurses, assistants, students and community members. The clinic will provide an estimated $1 million in dental services including cleanings, fillings and extractions to approximately 1,000 individuals who might otherwise go without care.

“The need for oral healthcare is still as significant as ever, even in our eighth year,” said Dr. Tim Curry, 2019 MOMOM co-chair. “Our volunteers look forward to serving every year, and we’re so glad to offer this gift of care to our fellow community members who might not otherwise receive these critical services.”

Many local, state and national businesses and individuals have come together to make this event possible through sponsorship and donated goods and services. “Without the support of these volunteers and sponsors, MOMOM wouldn’t be possible,” Curry said. “We are grateful for their time, talent and resources.”

The high volume of patients participating in charitable clinics like MOMOM highlights the gap between those with and without proper dental health and is an indication of overall well-being, as oral health is an important component of total health.

Missouri’s budget contains only limited funding for some adult dental services, and the current Medicaid system that provides for children’s services is underfunded. Many Missourians are forced to go without preventive care, which often leads to more costly emergency treatment.

“The Missouri Dental Associations acknowledges and appreciates the effort by lawmakers to partially fund adult dental coverage. We’re already seeing positive outcomes in this area, with fewer ER visits for oral health needs and reduced cost to the state,” said Vicki Wilbers, MDA executive director. “We’re counting on legislators for their continued support and leadership.”

Doors for this year’s clinic open at 7 a.m. Individuals ages 5 and up are welcome. Patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis until the clinic reaches capacity, which can happen early in the day. They should expect long wait times and prepare for a full day.

Patients who are available are encouraged to attend an open prescreening Thursday, Aug.15, 1 to 5 p.m., to complete a medical and dental screening to ensure they are healthy enough for treatment and to determine what dental procedures can best meet their needs. Prescreened patients will be able to get direct treatment when the clinic opens on Friday.

For more information on the event, visit MOMOM.org.