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Dr. Lora Nelson, dental assistant Kara Zweerink, dental hygienist Carol Thompson and Dr. David Andersen volunteered for Mission of Mercy, a two-day free dental clinic for children and adults. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

Dental volunteers use Mission of Mercy to put smiles on children’s faces

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By Anna Erickson

Several local volunteers spent two days volunteering for Minnesota Mission of Mercy to provide free dental care to children and adults.

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The Minnesota Dental Association and the Minnesota Dental Foundation brought the Minnesota Mission of Mercy to Bemidji Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15 to provide free dental care to children and adults who are uninsured, underinsured and not able to obtain dental treatment.

Dr. David Andersen, Dr. Lora Nelson, dental assistant Kara Zweerink and dental hygienist Carol Thompson volunteered from Dr. David Andersen’s dental office in Park Rapids. Andersen said he knows of several other Park Rapids people who showed up to volunteer in some capacity.

Nelson and Zweerink said this was the second year they volunteered for Mission of Mercy. Last year’s event was in Mankato.

“I liked being able to help people and they were so grateful,” Zweerink said.

Nelson said the event really puts in perspective the need for dental care in rural Minnesota.

“It reminds you of why you do what you do,” Nelson said. “It’s not necessarily just those who are unemployed. There are families who might have limited insurance and dental work is expensive.”

Andersen was involved with the leadership team for this year’s event.

“We were able to provide X-rays, cleanings, extractions, resetorations and fillings,” he said.

The Sanford Center in Bemidji was chosen as the site to accommodate the massive dental clinic where there were 1,652 patient encounters and close to $1 million in treatments completed. The sponsor of the event was Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation.

Dental care provided included cleanings, fillings, extractions and limited treatment for partial dental appliances. Volunteers were there from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

In total, 6,879 procedures were done, with 1,474 fillings, 966 extractions, 1,607 X-rays, 96 partial dentures, 481 adult and child cleanings, 159 full mouth debridement (deep cleaning) and 72 root canals.

Andersen said plans are to have another Mission for Mercy event in 2014, the location and date to be determined. Those who volunteered this year from Andersen’s office would like to volunteer again.

To learn more about the event, go to mndental.org/ mnmom.

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Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561
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