For two days, Concordia’s Memorial Auditorium became a 100-chair dental clinic.
The college hosted Minnesota Mission of Mercy, which provides free dental care to children and adults who are uninsured, underinsured or just unable to access dental treatment.
Organizers expected that about 2,000 patients would be treated July 22-23. Care provided included cleanings, fillings, extractions, limited treatment for partial dental appliances, and some root canals.
The effort required 400-500 volunteer dentists and 400-500 additional volunteers.
“It’s nice everyone is coming together to make this happen,” said Dr. J.J. Johnson ’03, who practices dentistry in Fargo, N.D. During Mission of Mercy, he worked with patients needing partial dental appliances fixed and adjusted. “It’s good to take care of people in need. That’s why I went into this profession, to help people and give them their smiles back.”
Nearby was Dr. Jim Lichtsinn ’80,who practices at Southpointe Dental in Fargo.
“Our profession is pretty good at helping out,” he said. He and Johnson both volunteer at a weekly urgent care dental clinic in Moorhead. Mission of Mercy expanded on those services, he said.
Some patients waited overnight in line, willing to give up some sleep in order to be quickly treated for painful conditions. That is a common experience during the five Mission of Mercy events that have been held in Minnesota communities, said Dr. Dave Linde, a retired dentist who volunteers with the organization.
“We prioritize the most critical needs for patients,” he said. “Most are thrilled about being here.”
That was an observation also made by Dr. Andrew Atchison ’03, who practices at Northland Dental in Moorhead.
“It’s about the only day everybody’s happy to be at the dentist,” he said. Like other volunteers, he started his day at 6:30 a.m. He had treated seven patients by 11 a.m.
“This is great. I sat about here for graduation,” Atchison said, pointing to the Memorial Auditorium floor under a dental chair. “Now I’m here fixing teeth.”
The Moorhead event is sponsored by the Minnesota Dental Association and Minnesota Dental Foundation, in partnership with the North Dakota Dental Association.