WDA Mission of Mercy providing free dental care to Special Olympics athletes

WEST ALLIS, WIS., June 10, 2013 – The Wisconsin Dental Association and WDA Foundation are again teaming up with Special Olympics Wisconsin to identify 50 athletes who will receive needed oral health care at the fifth Mission of Mercy being held June 28 and 29 in Walworth County.

A team of MOM dentists, dental hygienists and assistants have volunteered to treat the Special Olympics athletes, many of whom have additional medical considerations. The athletes are 21 – 50 years old. They were screened for urgent dental needs at recent Special Olympics competitions held across the Badger State.

Special Olympics Wisconsin offers Healthy Athletes® at its tournaments — a program which provides health care screenings and testing to athletes at no cost. One of the Healthy Athletes® disciplines, Special Olympics Special Smiles® gives oral health screenings to athletes several times a year. However, obtaining follow-up dental treatment can be difficult for these individuals.

“This marks the third year the WDA Mission of Mercy will help get these special patients out of dental pain and infection,” MOM State Committee Chair Dr. Tom Raimann of Hales Corners, Wis. said.

The WDA is the only state dental association nationwide that provides care to Special Olympics athletes at its Mission of Mercy events.

“We are delighted to again partner with the WDA on this charitable care outreach,” Special Olympics Wisconsin Director of Wellness Initiatives Melissa Schoenbrodt said. “Our athletes’ oral health is critical to their success both on and off the playing field.”

The 2013 WDA Mission of Mercy will be held at Badger High School, 220 E. South St. in Lake Geneva, Wis. Doors to this large-scale, charitable, dental clinic open at 5:30 a.m. both days.

There are no appointments. Care is provided on a first-come, first-service basis to about 1,000 patients daily. Early arrival is encouraged, because available patient slots typically fill by 8 a.m.

Individuals of all ages are welcome. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

There is no photo identification, Social Security number or other personal documentation required. Note medically-compromising conditions, such as extremely high blood pressure or severe disabilities may prohibit an individual from receiving care.

An estimated $1 million in cleanings, fillings, extractions, limited treatment partials and personal oral hygiene education will be provided through 2,000 or more patient encounters. The free care will be delivered by more than 1,000 volunteers, including dentists, dental hygienists and assistants, Marquette University School of Dentistry students and community members.

Major financial and in-kind support is provided by Delta Dental of Wisconsin Charitable Fund, Henry Schein Dental, Walmart Foundation and Walworth County. Delta Dental and Henry Schein have supported all five WDA MOM programs.

At least 55 organizations and individuals have made tax-deductible financial and in-kind donations to help cover $190,000 in costs for equipment and facility rental, supplies, pharmaceuticals and food for this major charitable dental care event which includes one day each for setup and cleanup.

WDA dentists and other MOM volunteers donate $6 – $8 in care for every dollar received. More than 9,000 children and adults have received $4.6 million in care at WDA Missions of Mercy since 2009.

 “As doctors of oral health, dentists have the training and education to relieve pain and make people well — but we can’t solve the state’s dental access problems alone,” WDA President Dr. Tim Durtsche of La Crosse, Wis. said.

“We are committed to working with patients and policymakers on a bipartisan basis to implement viable ‘healthy choices’ for removing barriers to dental care for all Wisconsin residents,” he added.