Hundreds line up for free dental clinic


The Missions of Mercy clinic, sponsored by the N.C. Dental Society, began Friday and will wrap-up Saturday. Clinic hours are from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days at the Durham National Guard Armory on Stadium Drive.

Patients are treated on a first-come-first-served basis.

Patients will receive examinations, x-rays, cleanings, restorations and extractions for free. They also will be offered oral health education.

Clinic officials told ABC11 Eyewitness News they had to cut off the line at 7 a.m. Friday. At least 1,000 people had lined up beginning Thursday night.

Doctors agreed to see 650 patients Friday. That's at least 100 more patients than they thought they would treat on the first day. The two-day clinic is staffed by as many as 80 volunteer dentists and 400 volunteers from the local community.

Patients drove from as far as Charlotte to take advantage of the service.

With more than 11 percent unemployment in the state, the clinic provides an opportunity to those who are out of work and who don't have health insurance.

"This free clinic is a tremendous opportunity for many of our adult residents to get much-needed dental care, and the City of Durham is a proud supporter of this event," said Howard Clement, III, city councilman and member of the NCMOM Event Planning Committee. "With many of our residents lacking dental insurance and thus proper dental care, our community is truly appreciative of the N.C. Dental Society choosing Durham for this event and I hope our residents take advantage of this opportunity to get the dental care they need -- and may not have been able to access -- until now."

To be eligible for treatment, adult patients must be 18 years old and may not earn more than 200 percent of the national poverty level annually.

The MOM clinic is a collaborative effort among the N.C. Dental Society, the City of Durham, Durham County, Blue Cross/Blue Shield Foundation, and numerous public service agencies.

"We are so grateful for the overwhelming support we have received from so many organizations and individuals throughout the Durham community," said Dr. Alec Parker, N.C. Dental Society executive director. "This is a Durham event, we just provide the dentistry."

Last year Missions of Mercy clinics treated more than 5,300 patients totaling almost $2.2 million in free dental care.

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