Six Columbus Technical College dental assisting students and their instructors recently got an up-close and personal look at how many citizens desperately need dental care in the Peach State. The Georgia Mission of Mercy (GMOM) was a free dental clinic held in metro Atlanta this June. It is part of a national venture that works to get free, quality dental care to those who can’t afford it. A total of 1,619 patients were seen over just two days. Much of the care provided included invasive procedures like root canals and extractions. Each patient received one dental service so the most possible people can be relieved of pain and suffering. Many people camped outside and waited in tornado warning conditions for hours just to be seen by a dentist.
The Columbus Technical College dental assisting students volunteered virtually non-stop at different stations including: triage, the numbing station, registration, and the treatment plan area.
Student Syndee Camp assisted in the sterilization area and helped check people out. She remembered one comment card that really struck a chord.
“This woman wrote that she had been living with the pain of a broken tooth for a year and a half!” Camp said. “I just couldn’t imagine being in that much constant pain. She just couldn’t afford dental care; other things had to come first.”
Cheryl Smith was amazed at the organization of the event and at some of the things she witnessed.
“I remember a Hispanic woman who required a translator (note: there were translators available for several languages),” Smith said. “Once we performed a panoramic x-ray, we saw a metal fragment near her eye. It was part of a bullet. You just never know what people go through.”
Dental assisting program director Sharron Cook called GMOM a life-changer and she can’t wait to go back in 2015 when the program sets up in Perry, Georgia.
“I will go every chance I get,” Cook smiled. “Even if it means wheeling me in!”
The Columbus Technical College works closely with the DENTAC (Dental Activity) unit at Fort Benning. Between that invaluable partnership and a fundraiser by the students, they were able to pay for the trip.
Being part of GMOM is something these students will always remember. Even when they graduate this December and are working in their field of dental assisting, they hope to return to help more people in need.