MUSKEGON, MI (December 9, 2010) – The woman nearly committed suicide because the pain of her rotting teeth was so intense. She considered using her loaded gun when someone told her about a temporary clinic set up by members of a dental mission team from Forest Park Covenant Church. She agreed to seek relief – and she received it.
Most dental cases aren’t that dramatic, of course, but the need for the free care is great in the poverty-stricken area in southeast Kentucky.
In the last five years, dental mission teams from Forest Park Covenant Church have set up a clinic in the gymnasium at the Kentucky Mountain Mission/Youth Haven Bible Camp in Beattyville.
They have provided the equivalent of more than 1,000 office visits, removing several thousand teeth. They also have offered full dental cleanings, filled cavities and provided composite teeth that replaced damaged or missing teeth.
They’re going back next April 1-5 to set up another clinic in the gymnasium. They hope professionals from other parts of the country will once again join them.
“We always have need of dentists, dental assistants and hygienists,” says Mark
Gordon, who organizes the trips. “We also have a need for technical expertise with dental equipment. Technicians are always welcome.” Volunteers also are needed to help clean instruments, set up and dismantle dental equipment.
The team sets up plumbing along the bleachers and runs temporary lines on the gym floor to standard dental chairs. Although the major equipment is in place, Gordon asks that dentists and hygienists bring their own instruments and any medications they feel they might need.
The clinic will be open three days. Gordon expects the lines of people seeking care will once again be long. In the past, people have waited from morning into late evening in order to get treatment.
Extreme poverty, drug use and isolation lead to a great need for care, says Gordon. One dentist pulled 1,100 teeth during the first trip, Gordon says. Methamphetamine abuse is rampant in the area and the drugs dry out the mouth, which encourages teeth to rot, he explains.
Gordon hopes that even workers who can’t stay for the entire time or can’t supply their own equipment still will consider participating. “I am confident that God will provide everything,” he says.
People without dental expertise also are needed for the many construction and maintenance projects needed at the facility.
For more information, email Gordon.