Free Dental Clinics Attract Thousands of Volunteers & Millions of Patients
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August 8, 2014; Charlotte Observer
In a 2012 report, "Dental Therapists: Expanding Care to Every Community," the Kellogg Foundation reported that "roughly 83 million Americans face barriers to dental care." Dental care is critically important to people's health and well-being but it is often either priced out of sight or just not accessible so not only are community health centers offering the services more often but also free health clinics are popping up across the United States – as here in the Carolinas
Mission of Mercy also offers free clinics in many other states including Oregon where at dawn on July 14th, there were already about 300 people lined up, some having waited for 24 hours. The first two in line were Kory Brown who needed a root canal and his wife Leslie Bowers who was hoping for a removable partial denture, to replace a dead tooth.
According to the same Kellogg report there are good financial reasons why access to dental care should be a priority issue. "In 2006, Americans made more than 330,000 trips to hospital emergency rooms primarily due to tooth pain or other preventable dental problems. These ER visits cost nearly $110 million.For states, the financial penalty is severe. A study of Medicaid enrollees found that in-patient ER treatment for dental problems cost nearly 10 times more per patient than preventive care in a dentist's office."
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