8th OkMOM Free Dental Clinic in Woodward to Provide Oklahomans with Smiles
Associate Pastor Don Reed was in a car accident in 2014. He suffered a broken arm and also lost a prominent front tooth. On a limited income, he couldn’t afford to get the tooth replaced. He received comprehensive dental treatment, including lab work and a partial denture, at the 2015 Tulsa Oklahoma Mission of Mercy dental clinic.
“Only about half of Oklahomans actually have a dental benefit plan,” says John Gladden, Delta Dental of Oklahoma President and CEO. “For the other half that don’t have that dental plan, just getting dental care of any kind can really be a challenge.”
Oral health remains among our most important healthcare responsibilities and yet adequate dental insurance is often absent, especially in low-income communities. This absence of proper dental hygiene and treatment often leads to much more costly procedures, loss of teeth, chronic mouth pain and, in some cases, severe disease and even death.
“It was embarrassing getting up before a congregation talking about God or talking about anything with this big gaping hole in my face,” Pastor Reed explained. He received a new tooth as part of comprehensive dental treatment during the 2015 OkMOM clinic in Tulsa.
Oklahoma Mission of Mercy organized the first free, two-day dental clinic in 2010. Since that inaugural event, OkMOM has treated 12,175 Oklahomans, totaling $8,742,959 in patient care, the Oklahoma Dental Association and the Oklahoma Dental Foundation sponsor OkMOM, which is endorsed by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The all-volunteer event is primarily funded by the Delta Dental of Oklahoma Health Foundation. Delta Dental has also created a resource guide, listing other charitable dental resources in the state.
The 2017 OkMOM dental clinic will take place on February 3–4 in Woodward, Oklahoma. Like past events, the Woodward clinic will begin treatments at 5 am on a strictly first-come, first-served basis. There are no eligibility requirements nor is identification or proof of citizenship required. All treatments are 100% free.
“We will treat as many patients as time, supplies, and volunteers will allow,” states Dr. Trent Yadon, Chairman of the 2017 OkMOM Woodward clinic.
The Woodward County Event Center will be transformed into a fully functional dental facility. “We have dental hygiene which does cleanings, we do fillings, we do some limited root canals on front teeth,” explains Dr. Shannon Griffin, 2016 Oklahoma Mission of Mercy Chairman. “We’re trying to expand our services and really take care of the people of Oklahoma.”
The OkMOM’s effort hasn’t gone unnoticed. The organization received the 2012 “Champions of Health” award for being a “Community Health Champion Winner.” Past chairman Lynn Means was also recognized with the 2015 “Excellence in Community Development” award from the Oklahoma Society of Association Executives (OSAE).
The OkMOM clinics have been a huge success since the very first patient received treatment in Tulsa in 2010. That Tulsa event treated 1,805 patients who received 6,997 dental procedures, followed by a record 2,201 patients inside Oklahoma City’s Cox Convention Center in 2011. Tulsa was the first repeat city in 2015, setting another record when volunteer dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants performed 12,766 dental procedures over the two-day span.
The contribution from oral health volunteers, who arrive from all over the state, cannot be overestimated, as last year saw the record-setting pace continue in Oklahoma City. These professionals donated more than $1,716,688 in free dental care. The average per patient cost was an astounding $1,089.27!
One doesn’t need a dental degree to volunteer at the 8th Annual OkMOM in Woodward. A wide range of volunteers in more than 20 categories, from patient registrars to translators to nurses to waste management coordinators, is essential to make Woodward the best event yet. OkMOM has reserved two-room blocks at nearby hotels for out-of-town volunteers.
Of course, oral health professionals, and their equipment, are critical as well. Dentists will earn up to 10 hours of CE credits and dental hygienists will earn as many as five hours of CE credits. OkMOM will provide snacks and drinks during the clinic. The organization also hosts volunteer receptions and dinners prior to the event.
“The response from the dental community is awesome,” exclaims John Wilguess, Oklahoma Dental Foundation Executive Director. “I’ve never seen a group of medical professionals who are willing to give up two consecutive days to be able to give away the services that they charge for everyday. The Oklahoma Mission of Mercy is the most remarkable two-day event of medical treatment anywhere in the state of Oklahoma.”
Volunteering produces plenty of healthy smiles across the vast clinic floor. OkMOM also relies upon sponsorships and donations to bring those same healthy smiles to 13,980Oklahomans, and counting.
“When you work with people who are just grateful to get teeth taken out that have been hurting for years, and you’re not worried about money,” concludes OkMOM volunteer Dr. Michael Wallace, DDS, “You can just solely focus on their well being. I walk out of here on cloud nine every time.”
Smiles all around.