Arizona Mission of Mercy will be coming to Fort Tuthill this weekend to provide free dental care to northern Arizona residents.
The event is set to take place Friday and Saturday and, according to its website, has not been impacted by the fires happening to the north of Flagstaff.
Mission of Mercy is in its 10th year of providing free dental care to people across Arizona. They’ve seen nearly 17,000 patients in that time and provided a total of nearly $18 million so far in free dentistry.
“We knew that a lot of Arizonans were falling through the cracks and were not getting regular dental care,” said Dr. Ann Blue, adding that about 21% of adults and 31% of children don’t have regular dental checkups.
The event, known as AZMOM North, will be Mission of Mercy’s second in Flagstaff, after its first Fort Tuthill event in the summer of 2019. In bringing the event north of its annual event in Phoenix, the organization hopes to expand access to dental care to other parts of the state, including those in rural communities.
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“We want to access those patients out there that may not have a ride down to Phoenix in December [for the annual event],” Blue said. “… We know that people in northern Arizona need us as well.”
The 2019 event provided about 600 patients with $1 million in free dental care. The hope is for this year to be even bigger, Blue said — they are hoping to serve 800 patients and provide another million dollars of free dental care.
Among the services provided at this event will be medical screenings, dentures, extractions, fillings and cleanings.
Anyone who lives in Arizona is welcome to come, especially patients who would otherwise be unable to afford healthcare. This includes people with a dental issue or pain that they’d like addressed as well as those seeking a checkup or additional information. There are no eligibility requirements.
“Our goal is to get patients who are in pain out of pain and start restoring those smiles,” Blue said.
Appointments are first come, first serve, so Blue recommended getting there as early as possible, especially for those who know they need a specific treatment. The Fort Tuthill Commercial Building will be seeing patients from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 17 and 18.
The visits will start with a medical clearance screening, involving a blood pressure check and health history form (knowing“a list of their medications is always good,” Blue said), followed by some patient education. This will be followed by the care itself, with a focus on the “most urgent needs” such as infection and pain.
Over 600 volunteers are signed up for this weekend event, including dentists from central and northern Arizona — enough to support between 45 and 50 chairs.
“We want to fill it up, we want to provide care,” Blue said. “… We’ve found that with the pandemic, there is a pent-up need. We know people have not been getting their check-ups, they haven’t been going to see the dentist as much for of reasons and so our goal is just to provide as much care as we can in the two-day period.”
They were still in need of volunteers–both dentists and laypeople with no experience in the field to assist with other (unrelated) tasks. Events like these require a lot of volunteers, Blue said.
More about Arizona Mission of Mercy, including information for both patients and volunteers, is available at azmom.org/azmomnorth.