When dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and community activists converged recently upon Georgetown, Texas, in Williamson County just north of Austin to provide free dentistry and other services to uninsured, low-income area residents, organizers knew those services would be highly valued.
The Texas Dentists for Healthy Smiles, an affiliated charitable foundation of the Texas Dental Association, has announced that the total value of services delivered amounted to more than $300,000 worth of care, delivered to more than 1,000 county residents.
Vision and medical screenings were also part of the mix of healthcare delivered at the "Texas Mission of Mercy," the formal event name for the mission held last November 7, 8 and 9 at San Gabriel Park.
Since 2001, the foundation has drawn upon the donated services of several hundred dentists, other health care professionals and community volunteers to deliver health services at regional events similar to the one in Georgetown. These missions target individuals who face difficult financial, cultural and transportation barriers to care, and are rapidly becoming the premier charitable event for hundreds of Texas dental professionals from all over the state.
Statistics recently compiled and announced by Texas Dentists for Healthy Smiles show last month's event in Georgetown had significant health impacts on the community served.
"All told, we saw 1,063 patients and provided dental treatment at an estimated value of over $300,000," said Beverly Zinsor, DDS, who is dental chair for the Williamson County Texas Missions of Mercy project. "We also provided 561 eye screenings, delivered 365 pairs of eyeglasses and performed numerous hearing and general medical screenings."
Texas Dentist for Healthy Smiles Foundation President Michael Vaclav, DDS, noted that 16 glaucoma patients were diagnosed at the Georgetown event. "Among those we diagnosed for glaucoma was a 13-year-old and a 5-year-old, both of whom we believe might have lost their vision had their condition not been identified at TMOM," said Dr. Vaclav.
Donors providing either financial and/or logistical support for the event included the Texas Dental Association, Delta Dental Insurance Company, an Irving, Texas-based dental insurance company, and Sullivan Schein Dental Supply, Patterson Dental Supply, Dentix Digital Systems, Capital Area Dental Society, Texas Association of General Dentists, the Alliance of the Texas Dental Association, Baylor College of Dentistry -- Texas A&M University System, University of Texas Dental Branch Houston, and the University of Texas Healthy Science Center at San Antonio Dental School.
Texas Dentists for Healthy Smiles was established in 1998 by the Texas Dental Association to improve the oral health of Texans and to increase access to care. The goal of Texas Dentists for Healthy Smiles is to relieve the suffering of those in pain today and improve their quality of life tomorrow. The Texas Dental Association (TDA), chartered in 1871, is the third largest state dental association in the United States. Currently, the Association has more than 7,300 members and is comprised of 26 component dental societies grouped into four divisions across the state of Texas.
The Texas Mission of Mercy project has to date served more than 3,300 adults and children, providing more than $1.3 million in dental services alone since its inception in 2001.