‘It’s a Life Changing Event:’ Mission of Mercy Mobile Dental Clinic Provides Free Dental Services to the Underserved and Uninsured

Jake Newby

| 2 min read

Mobile dentistry extends the reach of traditional dental offices by targeting populations that are underserved and uninsured. The Michigan Dental Association Foundation’s Mission of Mercy (MOM) event does exactly that for walk-up patients, providing dental screenings and services to patients of all ages at no charge. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was a proud sponsor of this year’s event.
June 14-15 marked the fifth time that MOM brought its 100-chair dental clinic with portable dental stations to an area of need; this year’s event was held at Flint’s Dort Financial Center. Everyone from school-aged children to older adults are treated for a wide variety of dental issues. Shuttle services are also provided for nearby residents without reliable transportation. 
“My most memorable moment was doing four restorations on one of my patients and then sending him to another station for two extractions because he traveled three hours with his entire family to receive this free dental care,” said Dr. Kristi Thomas, an associate dental consultant at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “This is my third MOM and I always leave exhausted but feel so proud of the impact we made to reduce disease.”
The MOM combines the donated services of thousands of dentists, dental hygienists, assistants, laboratory technicians, and community volunteers to provide free dental education and care. During these events patients receive oral health evaluation, diagnostic radiographs, and limited dental examination to address their pain or infection. Dental treatments include:
  • Dental cleanings
  • Fillings
  • Extractions
  • Selective root canals and potential crowns
  • Limited missing teeth partial dentures
Patients served by MOM volunteers are those facing insurmountable barriers to care. Access to care is a complex problem for:
  • Individuals and families who are economically challenged.
  • Individuals and families with disabilities. 
  • Individuals and families who live in remote areas.
  • Individuals and families who face cultural and language barriers.
  • Individuals and families who have difficulty navigating government programs.
Patients were treated on a first-come, first-served basis as dental services were provided to relieve pain and remove infection. On-site dentists also provided dental education to patients, so they could better manage their oral health once they returned home. 
“MOM is a life changing event,” Dr. Thomas added. “It’s a free community event with intentional and voluntary collaboration between patients and dentists to improve oral and overall health in our great state of Michigan. The Michigan Dental Association Foundation and many volunteers worked tirelessly to make this happen.”
Photo credit: MOM
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association