The Alaska Dental Society hosted its first MISSION of MERCY (MOM) event at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage mid-April utilizing 100 portable dental units and 1,332 volunteers including Department of Corrections Chief Dental Officer Michale Boothe and Dental Hygienist Laurel Pfanmiller-Azegami. Mental Health Clinicians Cortney Hansen and Marian Lilley also participated and helped with registration and organization of the event. The emphasis was on basic dental care such as fillings, extractions and cleanings. Limited lab work was also offered. Dr. Boothe served as team leader of the “post-op” section while Laurel worked in the “Kids Town” and providing local anesthesia. Originating in Virginia and spreading throughout the United States, more than 70 MOM dental programs have been conducted since 2000 to provide free dental care to local residents who otherwise would be unable to receive such care. The MOM event focused on: providing free access to dental care while placing a high priority on patients suffering from dental infections or pain, raising public awareness of the increasing difficulty low income adults and children face in accessing critical dental care and creating health care advocates via the hundreds of lay volunteers participating in the event.
— Laura Brooks