What is AzMOM?
The Central Arizona Dental Society Foundation will host its second Mission of Mercy (MOM) event at the Arizona Fairgrounds in Phoenix, AZ, December 12 & 13, 2014 utilizing 100 portable dental units and 1500 volunteers. More than $1,000,000 in free care is expected to be delivered to 2,000 patients. Both children and adults will be seen. Basic dental care includes items such as: fillings, extractions and cleanings. Limited lab work (i.e., stainless-steel crowns for children, treatment partials) will be offered. The program is unable to treat patients with specific medically-compromising conditions (e.g., extremely high blood pressure, high blood sugar, severe disabilities).
Originating in Virginia and spreading throughout the United States, more than 70 Mission of Mercy (MOM) dental programs have been conducted since 2000 to provide free dental care to local residents who otherwise were unable to receive such care.A successful MOM event focuses on:
- Providing free access to dental care while placing a high priority on patients suffering from dental infections or pain
- Raising public awareness of the increasing difficulty low-income adults and children face in accessing critical dental care
- Creating health care advocates via the hundreds of lay volunteers participating in the event.
Arizona residents suffer from higher rates of dental disease and benefit less from proven preventive methods than other states. A recent survey revealed that 21% of Arizona adults and 31% of Arizona children have never had a dental check-up.
This lack of attention has substantial costs for affected individuals and society. For many, oral conditions severely interfere with eating, sleeping, speaking, learning, working and playing. Oral health is inseparable from overall health and well-being.
The good news is that most oral diseases are preventable. Even so, tooth decay remains the most common chronic disease among children: five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. When compared to the nation, Arizona children fare poorly. In Arizona, 5% of children ages 6 months through 2 years have had tooth decay. By the time children reach 11 to 13 years, over 65% have experienced tooth decay, and by the time adults reach age 45, more than 99 percent have had decay.
Additionally, Arizonans report one of their major barriers to receiving dental services relates to finances. While 24% of Arizonans lack medical insurance, over 44% of adults and 38% of children lack dental insurance.
In summary, more Arizonans have dental disease than found nationally, while many report difficulty accessing dental services. Efforts, such as Arizona's Mission of Mercy project, serving over 2,000 individuals, are needed to improve the oral health for children and adults in this state
Patient Education at AzMOM
An important element of the Arizona MOM program is patient education. Education is the most cost-effective way to reduce oral disease among the low-income population, including AHCCCS patients. A program to help patients understand the importance of good daily oral hygiene practices, healthy diet and routine preventative dental care is an essential part of Arizona Mission of Mercy.
In addition to receiving needed dental treatment, MOM patients learn the importance of good daily oral hygiene practices, healthy diet and routine preventative dental care. It's a fact that such things prevent the progress of dental disease, and ultimately save money and time in the dentist office.
They learn about the negative effects of soda, sugary beverages and tobacco products, the link between dental health and overall health, oral cancer and more.
Patients arrive on-site, register for services, and are asked to fill out and sign a health history and release form. Since patients are treated on a first-come, first-served basis, the patients wait in line until their turn with a dentist.
Patients are funneled through an initial screening where the volunteer dentist determines what procedures are needed and wanted. Unfortunately, due to the sheer volume of patients and time constraints, the dentists are not able to address every dental problem.
During the screening, the volunteer dentist determines which procedures would most benefit the patient. At that point, respective of the patients' needs, the patients are channeled either to the cleaning, extraction or restorative area(s) for their dental work.
Volunteer dental professionals are required to fill out tracking forms for each patient served, tracking the number of procedures performed. If a patient needs operative care (extractions, etc.), he or she receives a post-op form that includes a local social service agency's telephone and contact name. Should the individual experience complications in the days immediately following the clinic, the agency contact can refer him or her to a local dentist who has agreed to see MOM patients for emergency follow-up care.