By J. Gomez
More than 900 people received $600,00 worth of free dental care at a clinic hosted at Eastfield and conducted by the Texas Dental Association’s Mission of Mercy.
AlexAndria Gladd, program services assistant for the Athletic Department, had two fillings and an extraction performed at the event.
“They were quite thrilled to be examining inside my mouth because I have a supernumerary tooth,” Gladd said. “So after my wisdom teeth were surgically removed, another tooth started to grow up over the top of my regular teeth. That’s like a rare occasion and lots of the dentists hadn’t seen that before.”
The dentists recommended removing the anomaly, but Gladd wouldn’t hear of it.
“Dr. Rainwater informed me that it is a sign of great intelligence, and then they told me they wanted to remove it and I said, ‘Oh, no no no no. Not that one. Take this funky one down here I’ve had for years; that one’s wearing out,’” Gladd said. “I said, “Oh, no. I’m going to take care of it, brush it, of course, now that I know it’s the brains of this operation.”
The two-day event took place April 10 and 11 in the P building.
The Mission of Mercy is a mobile dental clinic with volunteers who work their way through Texas providing dental services such as cleanings, fillings and extractions for the uninsured.
Richard Smith, Texas Dental Association Smiles Foundation board member, and Don Lutes, board chairman, supervised the event, where 119 dentists treated 905 patients.
“The mission here is to help those who have no access to care get out of pain or do something to prevent pain,” Smith said.
Mission of Mercy started in 2001. Lutes, in his third year as chairman of the foundation, said the Eastfield event was the 60th event that he and Smith have worked on together.
“The dentists that come to these, we pay our own way. We don’t get paid a penny to do any of this,” Lutes said, “I’m from Fort Worth now, but I used to be out from East Texas. We have people from Texarkana, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, all over the state.”
Board members meet in Austin and plan events across the state.
“Right now we are setting up the events for 2016 and 2017,” Lutes said. “We’re doing four a year, and we try and spread it out and get as much of the state covered as we can.”
For those who missed the clinic, the foundation has events June 19-20 in Texarkana, Sept. 18-19 in Lubbock and Oct. 30-31 in Abilene.
“If somebody wants to come in from San Antonio or Arkansas, if they’re willing to stand in line, we’re going to see them,” Lutes said, “So there’s no requirement other than being willing to wait your turn.”