Doctor Ben Lloyd is chair of the local planning committee for the event, which he says was started 12 years ago and modeled after what was being done in some other states.
He says the event started 12 years ago in Iowa. The event September 20th and 21st offers free dental work of all types for anyone who shows up. “The only thing we need is a health history from people,” Lloyd says. “You can come from Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, no questions asked. I don’t care if you make a million dollars a year or two dollars — you’ll be taken care of.”
Lloyd first got involved when the Mission of Mercy was held for the first time in Davenport back in 2012. He says he’d learned of the event through some of the pleas asking for dentists to volunteer their time to help. “And then I heard from other older dentists in the community ‘oh this is something you should do,’ and so I did and then kind of got hooked on it,” Lloyd says “It just becomes a wonderful way to use our really unique skill set to help everybody regardless of where they are from. And then we walk away and we don’t have to chase them to get paid, don’t have to deal with insurance.”
Lloyd says poor dental health can impact how you feel, impact other parts of your health, impact your self esteem, and make a difference in a variety of other issues in your life. “And we can help with that little piece of the puzzle that can be come a big piece of the puzzle for a lot of people. Teeth can ruin your life if you don’t take care of them. And that’s what we are here for,” he says.
Lloyd says they are still looking for dental professionals to lend a hand. “Registration for volunteers or if you are a dental professional, dental hygienist, dentist or dental assistant. Even lab can at: IowaMOM.org,” according to Lloyd. Patients simply need to show up at the River Center in Davenport and the doors will open at six a.m.
“Patients start lining up that Thursday night and they’ll stay overnight — it’s like Black Friday. They show up anytime that evening of the 19th on Thursday and wait around the clock. And it’s first come first served,” Lloyd says. The Iowa Mission of Mercy has been held in various cities across the state since its inception.
More than 14,000 patients have received free dental care totaling more than nine-point-three million dollars. More than 1,300 patients received almost $925,000 in free dental care at the last event held in Davenport.