Philadelphia – Taking their commitment to the serving the community on the road, a group of Penn Dental Medicine students recently joined faculty member Dr. Leonard Jensen on a volunteer trip to Wilkes Barre, helping at the MOM (Mission of Mercy)-n-PA event there, held June 7-8. Over two days, approximately 970 volunteers provided free dental care to more than 1,700 individuals in the region.
“MOM-n-PA is a unique group; it’s an all- volunteer organization that each year produces a large scale mission event for free dental care, travelling to different regions of the state,” says Dr. Jensen, Clinical Assistant Professor of Restorative Dentistry, who has been volunteering with the group since its inaugural mission, held in Philadelphia in 2013. Since then, in addition to this year’s Wilkes-Barre event, MOM-n-PA has held service days in Allentown, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie, and Reading.
The missions are held at large venues where mobile dental chairs are brought in and plumbing set up to provide comprehensive care for up to 1,000 patients a day. Services provided include cleanings, fillings, extractions, root canals on selective teeth, and a limited number of temporary partial dental appliances. Patients come on a first come, first serve basis and all care is provided free of charge.
Twelve Penn Dental Medicine students volunteered at the Wilkes-Bare mission, helping in a variety of ways — from chair-side assisting to triaging and escorting patients. All clinical care must be provided by PA-licensed dentists, so students assist in other roles where needed.
“It was a magical day — everyone working together, providing free dental care for the underserved Pennsylvanians,” says fourth-year student Irada Rahman (D’20), who participated in the program. “I hope more students get to experience this so we inspire each other to incorporate community dental health into our future practices.”
While this was the first year Penn Dental Medicine students participated in the event, Dr. Jensen foresees getting an even greater number of students and faculty from the School involved next year when the Mom-n-PA mission returns to Philadelphia, June 5-6, 2020.