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Hundreds get free dental care at mobile clinic

Texas Mission of Mercy dental clinic, Marble Falls

Hundreds of patients received free, pain-relieving dental care at a Texas Mission of Mercy mobile dental clinic on Feb. 24 at Marble Falls High School. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

Over 500 patients received free dental care during a Texas Mission of Mercy popup clinic Feb. 24-25 at Marble Falls High School. Volunteer dentists and dental students from across the country performed cleanings, fillings, and extractions.

“We have dental students from California here,” said Jen Banton, chair of the Access to Care Committee for Texas Mission of Mercy. “They might go to school in California, but they can still come and help. They can’t provide care because their license isn’t good in Texas, but when we have students from (Texas) A&M or (University of Texas), we have adjunct professors that they can work under.”

Chaired by the Highland Lakes Crisis Network and hosted by the Marble Falls Independent School District, the event went well, Banton said.

“The district did everything they possibly could to make sure things ran as smoothly as possible,” she said. “This community has really set the bar for every event going forward.”

The two-day clinic was the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic that Texas Mission of Mercy organizers could operate 40 chairs rather than 20 or 30, leading to hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional care to patients in need.

“We had to really scale back because of COVID because of all the infection control stuff,” Banton said. “This is the biggest event we’ve had in three years.”

A smashing success, over 3,000 free treatments were provided to Highland Lakes patients. The total cost was nearly $620,000, or $1,200 per patient.

Banton said the nonprofit would love to return to the Highland Lakes after the area waits its turn behind other Texas communities.

“The limit as far as going back to the same community is two years,” Banton said. “If people want to do this, and we have the funding and support, we could have this event every two years.”

The next Texas Mission of Mercy clinic is April 14-15 in Bonham.