The sound of dental drills filled the air at the Dena'ina Center Friday, the site of a massive free dental clinic sponsored by the nonprofit organization Alaska Mission of Mercy. By 10 a.m. 700 people had walked through the Downtown Anchorage doors hoping to receive no-cost dental procedures. Roughly 500 people had already sat down to get their teeth cleaned, receive fillings, have their teeth pulled or get root canals and X-rays. Of those, three hundred people had already completed treatment.
Staffed by 1,500 volunteers, including everyone from dentists to balloon artists for children, the two-day dental clinic hopes to help 2,000 people and provide $1 million worth of dental services.
The clinic is centered on serving the uninsured, underinsured, or people who don't have regular dentists. To pull off the event, the nonprofit raised about $280,000 in donations, including $25,000 the Alaska Dental Society used to get the fundraising started.
Anchorage Assembly member Elvi Gray-Jackson was touring the clinic Friday morning, and remarked to organizers that she was going to see if her dentist was volunteering.
"If he's not on the list, I'm going to have to find a new dentist," she said.
Alaska Mission of Mercy is planning for a similar event, about half of the size of the Anchorage event, in Fairbanks in August 2015.
Contact Megan Edge at megan(at)alaskadispatch.com