Over $800K worth of free dental care given to San Juan County community members

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FARMINGTON, N.M. – New Mexico Dental Association’s annual “Mission of Mercy” event arrived in Farmington over the weekend. It offered residents the ability to receive free dental care for two days, on a first come first serve basis. 

Although the event is put on at different locations across the state every 18 to 24 months, this is the first time in nine years it’s been held in San Juan County. 

McGee Park looked a little different over the weekend, it was transformed into a dental clinic large enough to serve 1,000 patients over the course of two days.

“We’re doing things from cleanings root canals a limited number of crowns were doing fillings were pulling teeth otherwise known as an extractions and we are even doing some front tooth flippers,” Jennifer Thompson, a local dentist and the event co-chair said.

In order to support a clinic this size, 50 dentists, along with 556 volunteers came together. 

“We have dentists from not only San Juan County but throughout the state, we even have some visiting dentists from other states as well as dental assistants, dental hygienists we have medical volunteers we have people from all sorts of backgrounds volunteering from the community,” Thompson added.

With one mission to help give other community members care they might not have access to.

“There are definitely barriers as to why patients may not be able to receive care those can be a lot of issues may be travel or dental anxiety is a big reason why,” Thompson said.

Adding that going without care can have harmful implications on the community.

“We have people here that are in pain from an infection or a broken tooth or a bad cavity or maybe there are missing a front tooth and we know that was a reason you had to stay home from school, why you have to call in sick from work. Or maybe getting it fixed can give you the self-confidence to may be go for that job interview or ask for that promotion,” said Thompson. 

Thompson said this event is all about turning those frowns upside-down.

“They might come in tears because they are in pain but they leave the door in happy tears,” she said. 

596 people were treated over the weekend, and $807,540.35 worth of care was donated to the community.