3193 N Drinkwater Blvd . Scottsdale, AZ 85251 . Tel: 480-344-5777 . www.azmom.org

Due to the huge success of last year’s event, the Central Arizona Dental Society Foundation will once again host its Mission of Mercy (MOM) event at the Arizona Fairgrounds in Phoenix, AZ, December 13 & 14, 2013 utilizing 100 portable dental units and 1,500 volunteers. So many lives were changed forever during its first event when 300 dentists, along with at least as many dental assistants and hundreds of dental hygienists along with about 600 lay volunteers, and all of the dental suppliers contributing a fortune in supplies and materials assisted in treating 1,659 patients providing $1.28 million in dental care.

The emphasis will again be on basic dental care such as fillings, extractions and cleanings. Limited lab work (i.e., stainless-steel crowns for children, treatment partials) will be offered. The program is unable to treat patients with specific medically-compromising conditions (e.g., extremely high blood pressure, severe disabilities).

Originating in Virginia and spreading throughout the United States, more than 73 Mission of Mercy (MOM) dental programs have been conducted since 2000 to provide free dental care to local residents who otherwise were unable to receive such care. A successful MOM event focuses on:

Pproviding 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 lay volunteers participating in the event.

Arizona residents suffer from higher rates of dental disease and benefit less from proven preventive methods than other states. A recent survey revealed that 21% of Arizona adults and 31% of Arizona children have never had a dental check-up.

This lack of attention has substantial costs for affected individuals and society. For many, oral conditions severely interfere with eating, sleeping, speaking, learning, working and playing. Oral health is inseparable from overall health and well-being.

The good news is that most oral diseases are preventable. Even so, tooth decay remains the most common chronic disease among children: five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. When compared to the nation, Arizona children fare poorly. In Arizona, 5% of children ages 6 months through 2 years have had tooth decay. By the time children reach 11 to 13 years, over 65% have experienced tooth decay, and by the time adults reach age 45, more than 99 percent have had decay.

Additionally, Arizonans report one of their major barriers to receiving dental services relates to finances. While 24% of Arizonans lack medical insurance, over 44% of adults and 38% of children lack dental insurance.

In summary, more Arizonans have dental disease than found nationally, while many report difficulty accessing dental services. Efforts, such as Arizona’s first Mission of Mercy project, serving over 2,000 individuals, are needed to improve the oral health for children and adults in this state.

To learn more about this important event or to volunteer, log onto www.azmom.org