The North Carolina Missions of Mercy, aka NC MOM, regularly holds multi-day events around North Carolina, at which dentists and their teams, as well as many community volunteers, come together to provide free dental care for people in need. This year, our dental assistant Rosie, dental hygienist Megan, and I participated, and let me just tell you, it was an experience unlike any other.
Free Dentistry for Charlotte Residents in Need
To get a good idea of what NC MOM is all about, you can watch this video. It’s a few years old, but it does such a superb job of describing the challenges facing people who need dental work, but lack the dental insurance or good jobs that will help them afford it, it’s well worth watching.
I first participated in a Charlotte NC MOM event back in 2012, but was unable to do so in 2013 due to family conflicts. This year, we planned much further in advance, and to tell the truth, after doing it this year, I plan on going to even more of these events around the state, not just in Charlotte. As I’m only licensed to practice dentistry in North Carolina (licensing in dentistry is very different from physician licensing), I can’t do events in South Carolina. However, the only times I’ll do the over-night shift, as we just did, will be in Charlotte. I truly have no idea how some people worked full days on Friday, then drove to Charlotte, worked overnight, and then had to drive home on Saturday. I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon after working the Friday evening/Saturday early morning shifts, and I’m STILL trying to recover, and I only had to drive 25 minutes home. And we even took the week of Labor Day off, so I was pretty well-rested beforehand.
And to see just how much fun we have while we’re working, you can even see me in there dancing a little West Coast Swing! At least, that’s what I was trying to do, but at 3:30am or so, who knows what it really was. LOL
How Much Free Dentistry Gets Done at a NC MOM?
Well, since it’s all free, there’s no way that I know of to calculate it, but I’ll take a stab at a crazy estimate; please do remember this is my own estimate and is not provided in any way by NC MOM, so it could be completely wrong.
- At the last Charlotte NC MOM event, I think they said more than 2,500 people were treated.
- Figure a very conservative fee of $200 work was done on each patient (this is probably WAY on the low side)
- That means that all the doctors, assistants, hygienists, and other volunteers performed a bare minimum of a half-million dollars worth of free dentistry in 3 days.
Honestly, I would bet the actual value to be much higher than that – probably closer to a million dollars worth of free dentistry.
Humbling, Awesome, Exhausting, and Grateful
It’s really impossible to fully describe the experience of being there, but I’ve tried to do so in this video. I do ramble a bit in it, so please forgive me that – I was still trying to recover from the exhaustion 36 hours later! Still, it was truly an amazing experience. Despite the fact that so many patients had been waiting patiently for up to 24 hours, they were so kind, patient, and thankful, it was truly incredible. We did as much as we could for as many as we could, to the point it all blurred together. I have no clue how many patients we treated, but we had 2 chairs going almost non-stop, with just a 30-minute break from 12:15-12:45am, starting at 7:30pm on Friday and finishing at 4:30am Saturday. We did a minimum of 100 extractions; only 2 fillings.
If there were a way to follow-up with the patients, that would be great, but they were naturally just ready to get out of there by the time they were done; many had driven several hours to get there. We did get to hear some of their stories while they were getting numb, and so many were heart-breaking, we sometimes had trouble keeping the tears back. While we couldn’t change whole lives with just 1 appointment, hopefully it was enough to help them get rid of one problem.
Here at Smiles by Payet Family Dentistry, our goal is to start becoming FAR more active in the Charlotte community. We’re so grateful to be here and to have such wonderful patients that contribute to our success, so we’re going to find more and more ways to give back. If you know of a charitable organization you’d like us to consider supporting, please Contact Us.