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FINALLY SMILING: Over 800 Get Free Dental Care

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An uncomfortable night in the cold finally brought comfort to hundreds of Iowans, Friday. Their tooth pain is no more.

The offer of free dental care attracted residents from across Iowa to the State Fairgrounds where more than 100 dentists volunteered their time to help people who desperately needed it.

“I had six teeth broken off in the gums and they had to dig `em out.  But it`s really been a really good thing,” says Rinda Faulkner. She drove two hours from Cedar Falls.  Like the 500 others, she waited in the cold.

“I came with insulated coveralls, long johns, I’ve got insulated boots on.”

The need stretches to all parts of the state.

Jarred Lason lives between Creston and Osceola.

"Well, I’m just here to pretty much cheer on my mom more or less,” Jared says. “cause she`s the one who really, really needs it `cause she has really bad infected teeth, and if the infection were to break open of her teeth, she could die.''

It's clear evidence of the people who health care reform was designed to help.  Organizers say the reforms will do that, but new laws will not completely erase the need.

“'We see people in here who that`s their condition.  They`ve got such a low level of employment, they have insurance, but they still aren`t able to come up with the co-pay or the deductibles,” explains Dr. Dick Hettinger, state chair of the Iowa Mission of Mercy.

Lucky for them, dentists are dedicated to the mission they assume will never be accomplished. And the patients are appreciative.

“They just fall over themselves thanking us because they`re very grateful,” Dr Hettinger says.

Roughly 800 people were able to see a dentist Friday. The Mission of Mercy program continues at the Varied Industries Building Saturday on a first come first served basis.


  • Laurie

    I think it is sad that we have such a tremendous need in our state, yet people have to wait an entire year for care. Where is this empathy throughout the year within the community. Too bad it takes media coverage for them to “volunteer”.

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