The annual Iowa Mission of Mercy free dental clinic is set for the end of this week in western Iowa.
Kathy Salisbury with the Iowa Dental Foundation says this is the eighth year for the clinic. “It is the first time we have been in Council Bluffs. What we try to do is choose a different city in the state of Iowa each year, so that Iowans from all over the state can benefit from the services that we are providing,” Salisbury says.
Those attending the clinic can have a variety of dental work done. “Everything from cleanings, we do fillings, we extract teeth — in fact that’s probably the number one thing that we do — we also do some root canals, and we do some lab work,” Salisbury says. “We can provide for front teeth that are missing, what we call flippers. It’s not a partial, it’s a removable piece. So, we are really a full-service clinic.” Salisbury says it’s a big effort made possible by donations. She says all of the dentists and dental professionals donate their time, the supplies are all donated and many others donate their time to help.
The clinic is free and all you have to do is show up. “We’re not going to ask any financial questions or anything of people. Our philosophy is to treat everybody who is having a challenge receiving dental care. And the only thing we tell people is, it is a first-come, first-serve basis, and the lines start very early,” Salisbury says, “We open the clinic at six a-m and often times we have people there at 10 o’clock the night before starting to get in line. So, people have to get there early and be prepared for a long wait.”
Salisbury says they’s seen more than 9,5000 patients and done $6.5 million of dental work in the eight years of the missions. She says the dental work can help prevent a lot of other issues. “I don’t think a lot of people realize that when your mouth is not healthy — it can affect other parts of your body and it can affect other diseases — such as diabetes, heart problems. Recently there’s been a study that poor oral health care can actually accelerate dementia in some people,” according to Salisbury.
The Mission of Mercy is this Friday and Saturday at the Mid America Center in Council Bluffs. For more information, go to the Iowa Mission of Mercy website at: www.iowamom.org.