Why I Volunteered With AZMOM

Phoenix_DentistThis post is a special report from Dr. Carol Ford on the two days that she spent volunteering for the Arizona Dental Mission of Mercy annual dental clinic.

On Dec. 8 and 9, I participated in the Arizona Dental Mission of Mercy (AZMOM), which is sponsored by the Central Arizona Dental Society Foundation. I can’t wait to give back to my community every year at this event, which provides free evaluation and treatment services to adults and children who do not have access to dental care. We don’t ask any questions about income or ability – if you are there in line, you will get care.

The patients are so incredibly grateful for the work performed by the dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, students and community volunteers at this event. I also love the fact that it is subsidized by grants and donations, and that those of us working at the event are all volunteering our time. It is the true spirit of paying it forward.

This year, we were able to provide more than $2 million dollars worth of dental treatments to 1,801 guests. The dentists and other volunteers cooperated to provide an astonishing 13,197 procedures!

This year, I was a lead volunteer in the routing department. The dentists who work in this department at the event review the X-rays that have been taken and discuss problem areas they are able to identify with the guest. Our job was to help guide guests to the areas where they would be able to receive the most benefit with the circumstances they have.

This year, I encountered a man I had seen at AZMOM last year. He was able to get a missing front tooth replaced this year.  He had been disappointed about not being able to get the services he wished for last year, but this year he made sure he thanked me for everything. He said he now understood that we have limitations and he was overflowing with gratitude and understanding.

As a dentist, I know that this event provides important health services for underserved members of our community. Many people do not realize that an infection in your mouth can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and even respiratory problems. We also are able to improve the appearance of people’s smiles, and smiling is such a universal symbol of love and caring.

I am in awe by the dollars and time spent at AZMOM. The extreme gratitude that comes back from our patients makes the long hours worth it. I look forward to this event each year.


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