Free dental clinic open to those in need of care July 28
July 5, 2017
Adults and children who need, but cannot afford, dental care are welcome at a free, two-day dental clinic Friday, July 28 and Saturday, July 29 at the A.J. Palumbo Center.
Hosted by Face2FaceHealing, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit, co-founded by Karen Scuilli, RN, MSN, MBA and Daniel Pituch, DMD, MD. Mission of Mercy Pittsburgh will deploy hundreds of volunteer dental clinicians, nurses, pharmacists and general volunteers who will donate their time to assist the underserved and provide dental diagnoses, basic restorative fillings, extractions, and cleanings at no charge to adults and children above age two. Oral Cancer screenings will also be provided.
No preregistration is needed, and there are no income or eligibility requirements. Registration is first come, first serve starting at 6 a.m.
“Many of those who will be served are from working families who do not have access to dental care or cannot afford dental insurance,” says Dr. Pituch. “Mission of Mercy dental clinic can be life-changing for patients, especially the homeless, the working poor, women in shelters, and children whose families do not have the means to see a dentist. By providing care, we help underserved patients move on to a better chapter in their lives.”
MOM-n-PA (Abridged from Mission of Mercy) has an established track record setting up free dental clinics around the state. The idea for establishing a Pittsburgh annual dental care event was born out of conversations between Dr. Pituch, Dr. Richard M. Celko, DMD, MBA, dental director, UPMC Health Plan; and Michael Zamagias, chairman and chief executive officer, TeleTracking Technologies, Inc., who together saw the need to provide service on an annual basis.
“The connection between dental health and overall health is significant,” says Dr. Pituch. “Poor dental health can tax the immune system, and can lead to cardiovascular disease because of the inflammation and infections oral bacteria can cause. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight, and poor dental health causes pain, discomfort and embarrassment for the individual affected. Despite this, statistics tell us that 47 percent of people in need of dental care have never seen a dentist.”
Poor dental care in children is particularly prevalent. While CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) guarantees dental coverage for millions of low-income children, not all providers will accept CHIP or Medicaid. One in five children have untreated dental cavities, making tooth decay the number one health issue among U.S. youth.
“Lack of care often drives individuals to emergency rooms when pain becomes unbearable,” says Dr. Celko. “Because ER’s are not equipped to provide traditional dental care, they can often only issue medication and referrals. The cost of a dental ER visit is three times as much as a routine dental visit and the patient leaves with no change to the condition that drove them to seek emergency care.”
The first annual Mission of Mercy Pittsburgh event will be held on Friday and Saturday, July 28 and 29, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the A.J. Palumbo Center at Duquesne University, 1304 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15282. A team of 300 volunteers are needed in the areas of dental, medical, and general assistance. To learn more and to register as a volunteer, log on to http://www.mompgh.org .
The deadline for volunteer registration is Friday, July 24, 2017. No registration is required for patients.