Dentists and students at the University of Mississippi's School of Dentistry are working overtime this week to provide hundreds of people with free dental care. The need is great.
"Once they fill out their forms they come into what's called the medical triage,"
The waiting room at the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry is filled with patients who need dental care but can't afford it. Twenty-three year old Anthony Moore of Jackson, has had a broken tooth for a year and a half. He's here to have the tooth extracted.
"It was small break initially but overtime it started to break down basically because of my eating habits and not being able to have access to a dentist to have it taken care of," said Moore.
Mississippi is one of the three worst states in the country for oral health. This is the School of Dentistry's inaugural Dental Mission Week. About 400 Dentists, students and volunteers from other UMMC departments are participating. Between Monday and Thursday they'll treat 800 patients for free. No one will be turned away. The school reached out to agencies statewide targeting under served communities. Some patients are coming from the Delta. Dr. Scott Phillips describes the problems they're seeing.
"A lot of extractions so far, a lot of periodontal or gum disease, some decay, so we're doing that. We saw at least 10 or 12 denture patients," said Phillips.
Fifty-three year old Georgiann Barnes of Monticello, is one of 20 patients being fitted for a full set of dentures.
"I'm excited. I'm very excited. I'm ready to taste my food again," said Barnes.
Dr. David Felton says poor dental hygiene can affect the entire body.
"It can be related to diabetes, poor heart health, pre-term birth weight for babies, just all sorts of things,"
Felton says they are also educating patients about oral hygiene during their visit.