The Central Arizona Dental Society Foundation (CADSF) hosted its third-annual Dental Mission of Mercy event at the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fairgrounds Dec 12-13, bringing together hundreds of dental professionals who provided free care to adults and children.

Among the participating dentists were North Central practitioners Dr. J. Lauren Harmon of North Central Family Dentistry, 5225 N. Central Ave., #102; and Dr. Fred Olsen of Fred B. Olsen PLLC, 2236 W. Bethany Home Road, Suite 1. Olsen is a founding CADSF board member and is credited with bringing the Mission of Mercy event to Arizona.

The coliseum floor transformed into a clinic with more than 100 portable dental units staffed by nearly 1,500 volunteer dentists, hygienists, lab technicians, assistants and lay people. Approximately $1.5 million in free care was expected to be delivered to more than 2,000 patients during the two-day period.

As in past years, the emphasis was on relieving pain and infection. Dental services such as fillings, extractions, cleanings, as well as limited lab work were provided to both adults and children of all ages. All patients underwent a limited medical screening.

“Arizona residents suffer from higher rates of dental disease than many other states, and this is one way we can give back to the community while providing critical dental care to those who need it most,” said Dr. Pat Rabot, a Phoenix oral surgeon and CAD Foundation board president. “We hope to raise awareness about the increasing difficulties that low-income adults and children face in accessing necessary dental care.”

Arizona discontinued adult dental AHCCCS benefits in 2010 during the budget cuts of the great recession. The demand for care during this event proves how much the most vulnerable members of our community need this program to be restored.

A recent survey found that 21 percent of Arizona adults and 31 percent of all Arizona children have never had a dental check-up.


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