The U.S. is experiencing a massive dental crisis. One third of Americans struggle to access the most basic dental care, according to The Washington Post article (May 2017). Most of these individuals have no dental insurance at all which forces them to pay out of pocket, rely on charity and emergency care or leave their teeth to decay. Medicare and Medicaid do not cover dental care and the Affordable Care Act makes dental coverage available to children only.

For twenty-five years Mission of Mercy Maryland/Pennsylvania program has been providing, to the uninsured and underinsured, free dental care (extractions and fillings only) via a MASH Army unit that is utilized in field hospital settings, and with licensed volunteer dentists and dental
assistants.

At Mission of Mercy we recognize that dental care is one of the most compelling needs for our patients and for the communities we serve. The vast majority of our patients have no dental insurance, they have few options for care, and there are very few providers who will help. Yet dental care is one of the most pressing reasons patients go to hospital emergency departments.

Thanks to the outpouring of generous support from foundations in Maryland and Pennsylvania, including the Kahlert Foundation, George L. Shields Foundation, Stabler Foundation, Ausherman Family Foundation, Knott Foundation and the Laughlin Fund, Mission of Mercy is getting closer to the $1 million dollars needed to purchase, equip and operate a dedicated mobile dental unit.

With 85% of the funding in-hand or committed, Mission of Mercy will be receiving its fully equipped, state-of-the art, mobile dental unit by December 2018. This new mobile dental office on wheels will be equipped with three dental chairs, two of these will be operatories and the third will be utilized as a prep chair. Having two dentists and dental assistants working simultaneously, Mission of Mercy will double the number of patients that will be seen.

Our new dental director, Roslyn Kellum, RN, DDS is excited to be expanding Mission of Mercy’s dental program for the patients that we serve. “Our volunteer dentists will now be able to enjoy working in a fully-equipped, modern, mobile unit. And our patients will receive treatment in a
state-of-the-art setting”, said Dr. Roz.

Marvin Ausherman, Founder of the Ausherman Family Foundation, said this of Mission of Mercy’s dental program, “I have always been impressed by the efficient manner in which they operate; they do a wonderful job of maximizing their dollars, engaging a dedicated volunteer base, and providing quality care…What this van means to Mission of Mercy is less time will be wasted in the set up and breakdown of the dental MASH units, allowing them to operate more efficiently and ultimately help more patients, which is what is most important.”

Our mobile dental unit will initially work in tandem with our mobile medical unit at our existing sites. “We are extremely grateful to our funders and very excited to be expanding our dental services to the communities we serve”, said Linda Ryan, Executive Director.