Story & Photo by Julie Archer, Co-Editor
The Oklahoma Mission of Mercy is hosting their 10th annual free dental clinic. It is a two day event taking place at the Oklahoma City fairgrounds on Feb. 1 and 2. The clinic opens at 5 a.m. each day, with courtesy overnight waiting beginning at 10 p.m.
This dental clinic is for any- one who does not have access to dental care from either being uninsured or underinsured.
In 2017, CBS News report- ed a study stating 28 percent of Americans do not have dental insurance, 56 percent only went to the dentist if their dental problem was serious and 51 percent do not know how they can afford dental insurance after turning 65 years old.
“The privilege of being able to go to the dentist is something that you and I have been en- joying while the lack of it are costing others their lives,” Samantha Doughty, a dental assistant for OKMOM, said. “This societal problem will take years and enormous effort to solve but until then, people will continue to suffer and endure their dental problems.”
“Anyone can be a patient. We even have people travel from out of state,” Doughty said. “Some of the things we take care of are cleanings, filings, extractions and anterior root canals. We also take care of patients who need a partial when missing a few teeth.”
People often forget the real importance of dental care or outright lack the money or access to care. A simple toothache can be a cavity, and if untreated, it will need more than just a filling. That tooth could need a root canal or various other procedures depending on the severity of the cavity.
“[People who ignore their dental health] develop a perio disease where the gum tissue comes away from the teeth because they get food down inside there and they get so much buildup and plaque,” Carol Boston, practice manager at Gentle Dental in Midwest City, said. “It can cause bone loss and loss of the teeth if they don’t get it taken care of.”
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 12 percent of adults ages 20 to 64 have not been to the dentist within the past five years. A lot could happen to a person’s teeth in five years time, even in just one year, a lot could happen.
“When we ask a patient why they haven’t gone to the dentist for so long it’s usually one of two things, either ‘my children needed it more’ or ‘I’m terribly frightened and I had a bad experience and couldn’t bring my- self to go back,” Boston said.
The OKMOM is run by volunteers ranging from dentists, dental assistants, dental hygienists and even non-dental related volunteers to help the event run smoothly. They have been able to help more than 2000 people every year with their dental services.
The 15th Street News is a student publication at Rose State College.