Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic Draws Hundreds in Wicomico County - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic Draws Hundreds in Wicomico County

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A long line of people wait to be seen for dental services at Friday's free dental clinic at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in Salisbury. (Photo: WBOC) A long line of people wait to be seen for dental services at Friday's free dental clinic at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in Salisbury. (Photo: WBOC)
A large number of people turned out for dental services at Friday's free clinic. (Photo: WBOC) A large number of people turned out for dental services at Friday's free clinic. (Photo: WBOC)
Dental work being performed at Friday's free clinic at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center. (Photo: WBOC) Dental work being performed at Friday's free clinic at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center. (Photo: WBOC)

SALISBURY, Md.- Hour after hour, people lined up outside the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in Salisbury on Friday to see a dentist at the Mission of Mercy free dental clinic.

"Got this tooth that needs to be pulled, know what I'm saying?" said James McKelvey of Dover, Del.

McKelvey estimated he had waited about six hours by the time WBOC spoke with him mid-day and he expected to wait a few more.  But McKelvey said if it meant he could finally get his tooth fixed, it was well worth the wait.

"Most of the people we're seeing here today have severe dental carries, multiple teeth that need to be extracted," said Dr. Diane Romaine, the president of the Maryland State Dental Association Foundation.  "They haven't had preventive care for a long time."

Started in 2010, the Mission of Mercy program now offers free clinics on both Maryland's eastern and southern shores as well as in the Baltimore area.  The Eastern Shore Mission of Mercy is sponsored by the Eastern Shore Dental Society and Maryland State Dental Association.

This year dozens of students from the University of Maryland Dental School volunteered to help out as well.

"It's one of the most rewarding experiences coming here because you know all the people here desperately, desperately need the care they're going to receive here today," said student Molly Westbrook.

According to Romaine, the state of Maryland spends more than $20 million a year on emergency room visits to treat uninsured people with severe dental problems.  That's because she says people in need rarely have dental insurance and can't afford regular preventive care.

"Because of that gap we are trying our best as dentists who care about our patients and care about our communities to provide a point of service for impoverished adults," Romaine said.

Some of the services provided at the clinic include preventive care and cleanings, restorative fillings and tooth extractions.  People are not required to provide income, insurance or residency information. However, some health conditions may limit or prevent dental treatment.

Another dental clinic will be held at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center on Saturday, March 11, starting at 7 a.m.

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