Eighth OkMOM Free Dental Clinic in Woodward to Provide Oklahomans with Smiles
“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 without a dental plan, simply getting dental care of any kind can really be a challenge.”
Oral health remains among our most important health-care 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 more costly procedures, loss of teeth, chronic mouth pain and, in some cases, severe disease and even death.
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 Delta Dental of Oklahoma Health Foundation has served as a primary funder and co-producer of this volunteer-driven event.
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 a.m. for all adults and children on a strictly first-come, first-served basis. Courtesy indoor line formation opens at 8 p.m. on Thursday, February 2 and again at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 3. There are no eligibility requirements, nor is identification or proof of citizenship required. All treatments are 100 percent 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 hygienists who do cleanings, we do fillings, and 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 to really take care of the people of Oklahoma.”
The contribution from oral health volunteers, who arrive from all over the state, cannot be underestimated, 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, are essential to make Woodward the best event yet.
Of course, oral health professionals are critical as well.
“The response from the dental community is awesome,” exclaims John Wilguess, executive director of the Oklahoma Dental Foundation. “I’ve never seen a group of medical professionals that are willing to give up two consecutive days to give away the services that it charges for every day.”
Volunteering produces plenty of healthy smiles across the vast clinic floor. OkMOM also relies on sponsorships and donations to bring those same healthy smiles to 12,175 Oklahomans, 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, you can just solely focus on their well-being. I walk out of here on cloud nine every time,” concludes OkMOM volunteer Dr. Michael Wallace, DDS.
For more information about the Oklahoma Mission of Mercy, please visit okmom.org. If you or someone you know is in need of dental services but is unable to attend the 2017 OkMOM event in Woodward, Delta Dental provides a resource guide of free and low-cost dental clinics available throughout Oklahoma available on their foundation’s website, DDOKFoundation.org.
Smiles all around.