February 20, 2013

Free dental clinic planned for March 1-2 in Wichita

Thousands of people are expected to turn out for the Kansas Mission of Mercy free dental clinic next week.

Thousands of people are expected to turn out for the Kansas Mission of Mercy free dental clinic next week.

The event will begin at 5 a.m. March 1 and 2 at Pavilion II at the Kansas Pavilions, I-135 and 85th Street North.

This is the 10th year for the project, which held its first free clinic in Garden City in 2003. Services will include cleanings, fillings and extractions for children and adults.

“We will treat any patient willing to come stand in line,” said Greg Hill, executive director for the Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation, the umbrella organization for the event.

“We will do the best we can to provide them services based on their most urgent dental needs.”

The services are free. Patients will not be asked to provide insurance or proof of income.

Since it began, more than 6,500 volunteers have provided more than 21,300 patients with more than $11 million in dental care, according to a news release from the foundation. The clinic also came to Wichita in 2006, Hill said.

Clinic officials hope to compare the number and types of procedures they do this year to see whether there are any trends.

“We’d love to see that the oral surgery department is the least busy and hygiene is the busiest, which would mean the severity of decay is down, but we’ll most likely see a busy oral surgery department,” Hill said.

“Obviously there are a tremendous number of people in the Wichita area that, for whatever reason, don’t qualify for Medicaid … or maybe their employer doesn’t offer dental insurance so they’ve gone without dental care for a long period of time. There are people in Wichita that have extreme dental pain, they have abscessed teeth that need to be extracted and provided some emergency care.”

Hill estimates there will be more than 1,100 volunteers, including 125 to 150 dentists, more than 100 hygienists and 175 dental assistants. The clinic will also provide food for patients and volunteers as they wait.

Hill said that at some point the night before the clinic starts they will open the doors so that patients waiting in line can stay warm.

The project is based on a similar one in Virginia, Hill said, and it has spread to several other states. The Kansas Mission of Mercy clinic is held in a different location each year to provide access for people throughout the state.

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