The Kansas Mission of Mercy is back in Wichita this year for its 20th free dental clinic. The event is on July 23 and 24 at the Century II Performing Arts and Convention Center.
“With the pandemic, we realize that there's a lot of people that lost jobs, which means they very well may have lost their dental coverage and lost the means to be able to pay for dental care,” said Niki Sadler is the executive director of the Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation, one of the event’s organizers.
Sadler said the clinic helps people who have low income, are underinsured, or have no insurance. It will provide pediatric care, oral surgery, and restorative treatments on a first-come, first-served basis.
Whether it’s cavities or abscesses in the gums, The clinic’s goal is to relieve the pain so that people can sleep better at night and focus during the day, without pain sapping their energy and attention.
Dental coverage is already tricky enough. It’s expensive and not often included in universal health coverage. The World Health Organization reported in March 2020 that for most high-income countries, like the United States, 20% of out-of-pocket health expenses are for dental treatments.
Masks are required, and the organizers have asked people to stay home if they feel sick. Sadler said there will be no hygiene care in order to reduce the aerosols released from the cleaning tools. There are usually 100 dental chairs, but this year there will be 45, spread 10 feet apart. Patients will be brought inside in small groups so that most of the waiting is done outside.
Sadler said the clinic still needs community volunteers, dentists, dental assistants, and hygienists to help at the event. More information is available at ksdentalfoundation.org.