Des Moines is hosting a free dental clinic this fall. Here’s what to know and how to help

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During a press conference on April 27, 2022, the Iowa Mission of Mercy announced an upcoming free dental clinic in Des Moines, which will be hosted Nov. 4 and Nov. 5. 

Pictured left to right: Zach Kouri of IMOM, Polk County Supervisor Robert Brownell, Kevin Baker of IMOM, and Jeff Russell of Delta Dental of Iowa.

During a press conference on April 27, 2022, the Iowa Mission of Mercy announced an upcoming free dental clinic in Des Moines, which will be hosted Nov. 4 and Nov. 5. Pictured left to right: Zach Kouri of IMOM, Polk County Supervisor Robert Brownell, Kevin Baker of IMOM, and Jeff Russell of Delta Dental of Iowa.

The last time the Iowa Dental Foundation’s annual free two-day dental clinic, known as the Iowa Mission of Mercy, hosted its clinic in Des Moines, the year was 2013.

About $1.3 million in dental care was provided at no cost to 1,475 patients, said Zach Kouri, president of the Iowa Dental Foundation and clinic chief of Iowa Mission of Mercy.

The foundation announced Wednesday during a news conference that the dental clinic is coming back to Des Moines in November. And this year, Kouri hopes to serve at least 1,800 patients $1.5 million in free dental care.

“I think it’s going to be our best Iowa Mission of Mercy ever,” Kouri said.

When and where will the free dental clinic be held?

This year’s clinic will be hosted from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 4 and Nov. 5 at the Varied Industries Building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Who can attend the free dental clinic?

The clinic is open to all ages. No appointment is necessary.

Kouri said many that attend don’t have insurance and cannot afford dental care. The clinic also serves many in the Amish community and those who are unhoused, Kouri said.

“It’s truly a mission of compassion … there’s truly a need — regardless of where patients live, how much money they make, or whether they have insurance, we do our best to accommodate all those who need dental care,” Kouri said.

“To pull this no-cost event together, it demonstrates what I’ve always known to be true: We are a community that cares about each other,” Polk County Supervisor Robert Brownell added.

What services are offered at the free dental clinic?

People who wish to attend the clinic are asked to bring their patient histories with them. At the clinic, people can expect to receive a variety of services, such as cleaning, root canals, extractions, and fillings. Kouri said there are also limited numbers of partial dentures available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Crowns, full dentures, or implants are not provided at the clinic due to time constraints, Kouri said.

Volunteers and donations needed for the free clinic: ‘It’s a rewarding experience’

At the news conference, Kevin Baker, the local committee chair for Iowa Mission of Mercy, stated the need for volunteers and donations.

Dental professionals are needed to volunteer, he said, such as dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants. Baker added that community volunteers are needed to help direct patients to the direct locations within the clinic and translation services, especially in Spanish, Bosnian, and African and Asian dialects.

“It’s a rewarding experience,” Baker said.

Further information, as well as opportunities to volunteer and donate, can be found at www.iowamom.org.

Iowa Mission of Mercy began in 2008 and has since hosted numerous clinics across the state, providing over 15,000 patients with free dental care —a total of more than $10 million in services, according to Laurie Traetow, secretary and treasurer for the Iowa Dental Foundation.

Clinics were not held in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andrea Sahouri covers social justice for the Des Moines Register. She can be contacted at [email protected], on Twitter @andreamsahouri, or by phone 515-284-8247.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowa Mission of Mercy to host free dental clinic in Des Moines



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