Free dental care available in Phoenix


Posted on December 13, 2013 at 8:11 AM

Updated Friday, Dec 13 at 1:15 PM

Dental Mission of Mercy

Second annual Dental Mission of Mercy to provide critical care as emergency room visits and hospital admissions for dental issues continue to increase

The two-day event will help close to 2,000 people on a first come first served basis.

WHEN: Friday and Saturday Dec. 13 and 14, 2013 from 6 a.m. - 6 p.m.
WHERE: Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum @ 1826 W. McDowell Road
Phoenix, AZ  85007

WHAT: The number of dental related emergency department visits in the U.S. has increased from 1.1 million in 2000 to 2.1 million in 2010, according to the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.

Locally, the Arizona Department of Health Services' hospital data revealed that ER visits for dental issues, where patients only receive antibiotics or pain medications but do not receive definitive dental care, increased to 29 percent between 2009 and 2011. During the same time period the number of cases where oral pain and infection were the primary or secondary diagnosis increased by 37 percent.

These significant increases resulted in associated charges for emergency room and in-patient costs of over $31 million during 2011. This was the same year that the funding for the AHCCCS adult emergency dental services program was eliminated from Arizona's fiscal budget. This is a cost increase of $10 million from the year prior.

The need for appropriate and preventative dental treatment is evident. In response to this the Dental Mission of Mercy was brought to Arizona by the Central Arizona Dental Society Foundation in 2012 with support from sponsors including Delta Dental of Arizona.

This year, more than 300 dentists and 1,200 hygienists, support staff and other volunteers will once again transform the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum into a large-scale dental clinic, where adults and children can get critical dental work done at no cost. The venue will house 100 dental chairs and will be capable of providing dental care such as, fillings, extractions, cleanings and limited lab work.

The emphasis will be on relieving pain and infection to those who cannot afford dental care. Adults and children of all ages who do not have medically compromising conditions, such as extremely high blood pressure or severe disabilities, are welcome.

In 2012, the Arizona Dental Mission of Mercy provided nearly $1.3 million worth of free dental care during the two-day event.

WHO:  The Arizona Dental Mission of Mercy event is a project of the Central Arizona Dental Society Foundation. Originating in Virginia and spreading throughout the United States, more than 70 Mission of Mercy dental programs have been conducted since 2000 to provide free dental care to local residents who otherwise were unable to receive it.

Delta Dental of Arizona is the presenting sponsor for the second year in a row.