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Thousands to Receive Free Dental Care During Two-Day Event

Friday, February 7, 2014 - 8:28am

View of a clinic at UT School of Dentistry

Patients with pressing dental needs will be treated in a state-of-the-art facility.

HOUSTON – (Feb. 7, 2014) – The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Dentistry is hosting the Texas Mission of Mercy (TMOM) and Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) programs, which will provide free dental care to Houston-area residents today and Saturday at the school, 7500 Cambridge St. in Houston.

Volunteer dental professionals have teamed up with the school, TDA Smiles Foundation and the Greater Houston Dental Society to provide fillings, extractions and other procedures, such as root canals, for up to 1,500 patients, free of charge.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Texas oral health professionals to come together and serve our community” said UTHealth School of Dentistry Community Outreach Director Margo Melchor, RDH. “We are the first dental school in Texas to host a Texas Mission of Mercy event.  Since oral health disparity is a profound issue in the United States, this collaboration enables all volunteers to assist with providing preventative and limited dental treatment at no cost to these patients." 

The TDA Smiles Foundation hosts Texas Mission of Mercy events throughout the state, serving thousands of patients who don’t have access to dental care. In 2013, Texas Missions of Mercy served over 2,400 patients, providing more than $1.8 million worth of care. Most adult patients selected to receive care for the Houston event were prescreened in January at the Open Door Mission, San Jose Dental Clinic and Star of Hope Women’s Shelter.

Additionally, more than 500 children will receive dental care in the Give Kids a Smile segment of the event, co-sponsored by the Greater Houston Dental Society (GHDS).  Patients were prescreened at various Houston Independent School District schools and the San Jose Dental Clinic.

“This event allows children with a pressing medical need to be treated free of charge in a state-of-the-art facility by some of the best dentists in the City of Houston,” said Give Kids a Smile Chair Laji James, DDS. “Also, even though Houston is a large metropolitan city, Give Kids a Smile creates an opportunity for collaboration of dental personnel from the private sector, the academic community, federal and state employees, and community clinics and volunteers. Give Kids a Smile allows all these individuals to work together to help some of the most vulnerable and needy in our city.”

Many patients were screened in advance for Give Kids a Smile, and they have unique tickets and instructions for receiving receive care.

The Texas Mission of Mercy is primarily for adults. Hundreds were prescreened, but walk-in patients are being accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The number of patients who receive care will be limited to the amount of dentists and volunteers available. It is highly recommended that all patients bring any medication they currently use. Additionally, it is advised that only those who seek care attend the event, due to limited parking.

This is the first time the UTHealth School of Dentistry has hosted a Texas Mission of Mercy event. The  School of Dentistry and Greater Houston Dental Society have partnered to host Houston-area Give Kids a Smile events most years since 2003.

For additional information visit: http://www.ghds.org/texas-mission-of-mercy.html or http://www.tdasmiles.org/Programs/TexasMissionOfMercy(TMOM).aspx.

About the Texas Dental Association Smiles Foundation

The Texas Dental Association Smiles Foundation (TDA Smiles Foundation) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public and profession about oral health and improving access to dental care for the citizens of Texas. Since 2001, Texas dentists have treated more than 27,000 patients and provided more than $13 million in charitable dental care at mission events. For more information, please visit tdasf.org.

TDASF is the affiliated foundation of the Texas Dental Association. Chartered in 1871, the TDA is the third largest state dental association in the United States. The association has more than 8,800 members and is comprised of 26 local component dental societies grouped into 4 divisions across Texas. The TDA is part of a tripartite affiliation with the American Dental Association at the national level and community dental societies at the local level.

About the Greater Houston Dental Society

The Greater Houston Dental Society (GHDS) is the local component of the Texas Dental Association (TDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA). Founded in 1904, the GHDS is the fourth largest component (local) society in the United States with a current membership of over 1,600. Our members are committed to providing the highest quality oral health care to the Greater Houston community and are dedicated to the principles of ethics, professional advancement, and advocacy.

About The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Dentistry

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Dentistry has set the standard for oral health excellence by educating outstanding dentists and dental hygienists, discovering new oral health advancements and caring for the people of Texas for more than 100 years. As the only dental school in southeast Texas, the School of Dentistry is a primary source of quality oral health care for low-income families, the traditionally underserved and for patients with special needs and/or medical co-morbidities. For more information visit, http://www.db.uth.tmc.edu 

--Edgar Veliz
UTHealth Media Hotline: 713-500-3030