The Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center in Waterloo has been transformed into a giant dentist’s office today for the seventh annual Mission of Mercy.
Patty Meredith is one of the dentists and other volunteers who are donating their time to provide dental care to anyone who shows up.”There’s no cost at all to the patient, and all they have to do is stand in line, give us their health history, and then they’ll be ready for treatment,” Meredith says.
She says they provide a variety of work. “We’re doing cleanings and we’re doing extractions and we are doing fillings, and we are also doing replacement of front teeth for people who have front teeth that are missing,” Meredith explains. “We are also doing comprehensive care for children, who whatever they children need short of orthodontics — we’re not doing braces clearly — but otherwise we are taking care of all of the children’s needs.”
The doors opened at six this morning and the work will continue through this afternoon. “We’re going to be open until 5 p.m. today, but if people are coming, we’d like them to come as soon as they can so we have some time to do treatment. We are going to be open again tomorrow (Saturday) from 6 A.M. until 5 p.m.,” according to Meredith.
Doctor Meredith teaches dentistry at the University of Iowa and has been involved in all seven of the MOM events. She says it’s something she likes doing. “I keep coming back because it is a wonderful opportunity to serve the people of Iowa who really have a lot of needs,” Meredith says. “It’s also very rewarding to see the dental community come together. Within every community we’ve been to, we get huge support from the community itself.”
The Mission of Mercy was first organized to help those who couldn’t afford dental treatment. Meredith says it’s important that people are able to get maintenance on their teeth. “That is much easier than when it becomes a bigger problem. Whenever things get bigger, then it is more to take care of. I always tell people it is just like your car — if you maintain it and have an oil change regularly – it is not a lot to keep up,” Meredith says. “Just like your mouth, if you have regular treatments it’s not a lot to keep up, but if you let that car go, it gets in bad shape, and the same thing happens with your mouth.”
Iowa dentists have treated nearly 8,500 patients and provided more than $5.5 million in free dental care since the annual event was started in 2008. Iowa MOM has previously been held in Waterloo, Newton, Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, Davenport and Des Moines. More information for volunteers and patients is available at www.iowamom.org.