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First Free Dental Clinic Coming to Rhode Island

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Free dental services for all RIers who can't afford them, coming this June.

For the first time Rhode Island will host a two-day free dental clinic for residents who don't have access to regular oral healthcare because of dental coverage limitations or the inability to afford dental coverage.

The Rhode Island Oral Health Foundation, which provides funding and resources to improve oral health and access to dental services for all residents, has announced the state’s first Mission of Mercy, a two-day free dental clinic to be held on June 2 and 3, 2012, at the Dental Hygiene Clinic at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Flanagan Campus in Lincoln.

Much-needed care, and awareness

“Too many Rhode Islanders do not have access to regular oral health care because of dental coverage limitations or the inability to afford dental coverage,” said Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts, Co-Chair of the R.I. Oral Health Commission. “The R.I. Mission of Mercy event will provide much-needed care to individuals, while also raising awareness of the significant oral health needs facing our state. This event should also restart the dialogue about oral health access among policy-makers.”

RI Mission of Mercy

The Rhode Island Mission of Mercy’s goal will be to address patients’ most urgent oral health needs, placing a high priority on patients suffering from infections or pain. Event organizers expect to treat up to 600 patients over the two days. During the free clinic, dental services will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis, and will include cleanings, fluoride treatments, dental sealants, X-rays, oral health education, fillings, tooth extractions, some root canal treatments and minor denture repairs. Rhode Island dentists and other dental professionals will be donating their time to treat those in need.

In 2010, 130,000 Rhode Island Medicaid enrollees did not see a dentist, and the number of residents who no longer have dental insurance or can’t afford to pay for dental care is increasing, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health.

Non-traditional partners

"The Rhode Island Mission of Mercy represents the coming together of nontraditional partners, giving of their skills and time to help those less fortunate to achieve better oral health," said Jeffrey Dodge, DMD, Mission of Mercy co-chair.

“There’s nothing more important to our state’s dental community than addressing the access issue, and Rhode Island Mission of Mercy is designed to do just that,” said Deborah Fuller, DMD, MS, Mission of Mercy co-chair. “Thanks to the collaborative efforts of a wide variety of partners, this event will not only treat immediate oral health problems that can lead to more serious health issues, but it will also bring awareness to a growing problem faced by thousands of adults and children in Rhode Island.”

Delta Dental of Rhode Island is the primary partner of the Rhode Island Mission of Mercy dental clinic through its charitable endowment, the Delta Dental of Rhode Island Fund. Since 2005, the Fund has committed $750,000 to dental-related organizations throughout the state.

Public and private sectors, working together

“The Rhode Island Mission of Mercy event is the perfect synthesis of public and private sector efforts to expand access to care to our most vulnerable citizens,” said Joseph Nagle, Delta Dental of Rhode Island’s president and CEO. “It’s also a perfect fit for Delta Dental’s philanthropic efforts since our mission is to improve the oral health of all Rhode Islanders, not just our members. And for two days, we’ll work together for that one simple goal.”

The Mission of Mercy event will be held at the Community College of Rhode Island’s recently renovated Dental Hygiene Clinic, a 24-chair, fully equipped dental center with digital radiography, a sterilization center and electronic dental records. Additional mobile dental equipment and the Molar Express will also be on site.

“Part of our college’s mission is to respond to the needs of the community, and we are proud to lend our state-of-the-art facility to this worthy cause,” said CCRI President Ray DiPasquale. “Our dental programs already provide low-cost services to 3,000 patients in our clinic and donate more than $100,000 in services to nonprofit agencies across the state every year. This event is one more way we can help Rhode Islanders who are living with pain every day get the care they so desperately need.”

The R.I. Mission of Mercy is completely run by volunteers. In addition to dentists and other dental and medical professionals, community volunteers are needed to assist in both clinical and nonclinical activities.  Volunteer registration is now open on the R.I. Mission of Mercy Web site, www.rimom.org.


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