LAUREL, Md. (WUSA9)-- The WUSA 9 news team was at St. Vincent Pallotti High School well before the doors opened at six AM today, and so were the crowds. One family arrived the evening before from Smyrna, Delaware. A woman named Jennifer said she needed a cavity filled. Pretty routine, unless you can't afford the dental bill.
She said, "If it were to get infected, it could be very dangerous. But not having dental insurance, you are reliant on the Mission of Mercy and hope it is nearby."
This Mid-Maryland Mission of Mercy, or MOM event, is co-sponsored by Catholic Charities and theMaryland State Dental Association. More than 300 volunteer dentists, hygienists and pharmacists will see about 800 people during the two day event. Participating dentist Dr. Diane Romaine came to help from Frostburg, Maryland. She says the "MOM" clinics cut down on emergency department visits for dental pain, infections, and other problems."
Dr. Romaine says, "Of course, in an emergency room, there are not dentists there. Usually, the only course of action is getting antibiotics and pain medication, which is not definitive treatment.
But definitive treatment was available at this clinic after the school's gym was transformed into a 50-chair dental office. Volunteers performed cleanings, root canals, fillings and extractions, an estimated $650,000 worth of dental work at no cost.
Dr. Frank McLaughlin of the Maryland State Dental Association says, "Unfortunately, there are no programs in the state of Maryland for adults, so this is why we need to do this."
The pop-up clinic will be seeing patients on Saturday, August 3rd as well on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at six AM, and a Catholic Charities representative estimates that about the first 250 people in line will be seen.