By Linda Ryan, Executive Director

As we noted in the first story in this e-newsletter, Mission of Mercy is thrilled to have received a commitment of $250,000 from the Kahlert Foundation in support of our $1 million goal to purchase and equip a new dental van to serve the needs of our community.

This generous gift comes at a critical time for our community. The Frederick County 2016 Community Health Assessment reports that in 2013, three out of five adults who said they did not see a dentist said the reason was because it cost too much.

One of the most preventable reasons that patients visit the emergency department at Frederick Memorial Hospital is for urgent dental care, primarily for cavities. The majority of the patients did not have insurance or had Medicaid which means they have low incomes and are more likely to not have adequate affordable dental insurance coverage.

But lack of access to affordable dental care has significant implications for our overall health as well. Studies have linked poor oral hygiene to a higher risk of other health problems, including heart disease. Plaque build-up in the arteries is actually an inflammatory process, which is a key component of gum disease as well.

And we can’t forget about the societal implications of dental pain and how it can impact our ability to work and effectively care for our families.

We cannot thank the Kahlert Foundation enough for its leadership gift and we will use it to leverage other gifts—big and small—to support our dental van campaign. Please consider whatever you can do to help us bring much-needed accessible dental care to our community. That is truly something to smile about.