Over an early September weekend in 2017, some 850 visitors showed up to the University of Maryland (UMD) basketball arena in College Park. But the attendees weren’t there to watch a game, they came to receive free dental care through Mission of Mercy, which holds similar events across the country to provide one-off dental services to anyone who needs them.
Many of the attendees queued up in the UMD gym were there not for routine tooth-cleanings, but instead were suffering from severe dental problems requiring interventions like painful extractions. As Maryland dentist Dr. Jacob Nix explained, these treatments were likely long overdue, but had been put off because the patients had no access to dental care. “I doubt that many of them had been waiting on that day just to save a few dollars,” said Nix.