By Kelsey Creehan, CDA Marketing Specialist
From the Winter 2019 Journal of the Colorado Dental Association
The Colorado Mission of Mercy (COMOM) held its 12th annual free clinic Nov. 2-3 in Greeley, CO. The large-scale dental clinic is held each year in a different Colorado community. COMOM provides quality dental services to individuals of all ages who cannot afford or access dental care. The massive operation entails 125 portable dental chairs and over 200 volunteer dentists, along with hundreds of dental hygienists, assistants, lab technicians, and a myriad of lay volunteers and other health professionals.
Patients come to COMOM with all kinds of dental needs. Patients undergo a health and dental evaluation, and are then provided with anything from cleanings and fillings to tooth extractions and root canals—all at no cost to the patient. In addition, ceramic crowns, flippers and dentures are prepared. To promote sustained oral health, patients are also given one-on-one oral health instruction on how to care for their teeth and the importance of balanced nutrition and preventive dental care.
Throughout the clinic, various community performers and musicians entertain patients as they wait to receive care. Interpreters are on hand to assist patients who are non-English speaking, and emotional support dogs help to put individuals at ease and boost morale.
Mike Martinez, of Fort Lupton, CO, hadn’t seen a dentist in five years due to lack of providers in his area. He expressed his satisfaction with the services he received at the clinic, saying, “I’m really happy and proud. I’m really glad I came, let’s put it that way. I didn’t think it would be this nice!” He left Greeley with several extractions and a new pair of dentures.
Greeley local Chantel Sims waited overnight to ensure she was seen by a dentist. When asked why she was at COMOM, Sims replied, “Mostly being able to smile again. The past six months, I haven’t even smiled.” After a car accident let her with missing and fractured teeth, she was unable to afford treatment. She left the clinic a few hours later with a brand-new smile and restored sense of confidence.
This year, more than 1,100 adults and children who could not afford dental care were provided with free oral healthcare services at Island Grove Regional Park. During the two-day clinic, patients underwent dental procedures amounting to more than $1M in donated care. A clinic of this scale would be impossible to successfully execute without COMOM’s substantial base of volunteers, including many CDA members whose efforts truly made a difference in the lives of their patients. COMOM site chairs Dr. Nate Kunzman, Dr. Bob Benke, and Kathleen Kerrigan also deserve special recognition for their dedication to ensuring this year’s success!
When asked about the purpose behind the dental clinic and why he volunteers his time, Dr. Kunzman replied, “A lot of people are suffering. They’re unable to get to a dentist for many reasons. They have a huge need and it affects their ability to get a job and be out in front of people. To give them back that confidence and smile—it’s lifechanging.”
Save the Date!
2019 Western Slope COMOM
Oct. 4-5, 2019
Glenwood Springs, CO
Whether you’re a caring dentist or a caring individual, many opportunities to volunteer will be available. Visit COMOM.org and follow facebook.com/ColoradoMissionofMercy for updates and information as the 2019 date approaches.