Hordes of Arkansas citizens are traveling the road to "pearly whites" thanks to the beneficence of ArMOM.
ArMOM? Yes, it’s a folksy acronym that translates to the exertion of dentists in the state to correct dental ills of people financially unable to buy dental procedures. Dentists are wont to call the program "Arkansas Mission of Mercy."
For three days — May 30 through June 1 — dentists will work without compensation to provide services during a free dental clinic sponsored by the Arkansas State Dental Association. The upcoming clinic will be held at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia.
The premise for this effort by Arkansas dentists is to offer dental care for the relief of pain to underserved Arkansans, many of whom are from working families without access to or who con not afford dental insurance. All ArMOM services are freely given by dentists assisted by a host of volunteers.
Since ArMOM was inaugurated in 2007, more than 10,500 patients have been seen in only 12 total clinic days. People have responded in droves to the invitation of free dental work. Previously, many of these people had no hope of receiving care otherwise.
Since its inception, ArMOM has provided over 5,4 million dollars in donated dental care says Conway’s Dr. Terry Fiddler, the 2013 chair of ArMOM. Last year, the program attracted some 174 dentists, 105 hygienists, 205 assistants and more than 5000 support personnel.
He noted that patients often spent many hours, including camping out on streets overnight, to access this program. "Though all dentists and support personnel are volunteers who donate their time to ArMOM, there are still thousands of dollars of expenses involved in the operation of the program" Dr. Fiddler pointed out.
"These include dental equipment and maintenance, dental supplies, food, water and T-shirts for volunteers, as well as miscellaneous provisions for patients waiting in line," he said. "Though we have several generous corporate sponsors who have made ArMOM possible, we appreciate donations of any amount. Donations may be made by calling (501) 83k-7650 or email drew@arkansasdentisrty,org.
The Conway dentist points out that the group of professionals who sign on for the project is "privately motivated and privately funded with the goal to serve the underserved. "We go into a community and leave a long-lasting effect of healthier, more vibrant men, women and children who can then go about their daily lives in a more pain free environment."
While Arkansas dentists involve themselves in the work of alleviating pain for many people, they in turn receive a spiritual uplifting for themselves knowing that they have made a difference for many individuals.
In Dr. Fiddler’s view, the mission of the Arkansas dentists stimulates the local community by the influx of hundreds of volunteers who use the local services in a plethora of various ways.
Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation, he said, has been a solid and dependable partner in ArMOM since its inception in 2007. Funds contributed by the foundation have been used to support the operations of Arkansas dentists in their philanthropic enterprise, Dr. Fiddler says.
Future sites for ArMOM at work include Conway. Similar free clinics have been held in Little Rock, Springdale, Monticello and Jonesboro.