Oral health is more than just a nice smile. Having good oral health improves a person’s ability to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew and eat. Tooth decay and gum disease have been linked with other serious health problems like heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as premature births. Given the potential link between oral diseases and other systemic health problems, it is critical to maintain good oral health. A startling 43% of Arizona adults  have lost teeth due to decay or gum disease. We know that nationally about half of adults don’t have dental insurance and pay for dental care out-of-pocket.

To help those who desperately needed dental care, the Central Arizona Dental Society Foundation hosted the 7th Arizona Dental Mission of Mercy event at the Arizona State Fairgrounds on December 7-8 using portable dental equipment and nearly 1,800 volunteers. Dental care was provided on a first-come, first-serve basis at no charge while placing a high priority on patients suffering from dental infections and pain. Approximately $2 million in free care was delivered to 2,000 patients (both adults and children). Dental care included treatment such as cleanings, fillings, crowns, extractions and dentures.

The event is raising public awareness of the increasing difficulty for low-income adults to access critical dental care and it is helping engage health care advocates through the hundreds of volunteers and organizations who partner in the event.

ADHS supported the event through Title V funds and provided health information and resources at the event. To find out more information or to participate in next year’s event, visit azmom.org.