Free dental clinic to be held at WCU

An electronic sign outside Sylva informs passersby of the free dental clinic. Photo by Ben Haines

North Carolina Missions of Mercy will host a free dental clinic from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, July 13-14 in the Liston B. Ramsey Regional Activity Center at Western Carolina University.

The free dental clinic is intended for people whose income is no more than double the national poverty level. Dr. Bill Blaylock, Director of N.C. Missions of Mercy, clarified, “We’re here for anybody who can’t afford their own dental treatment.”

Certified dental technicians will offer dental cleaning services and provide anterior appliances including the repair, realignment, and replacement of dentures. “We’ve got dental technicians from all across the state,” said Arey Grady, Chairman of the North Carolina Dental Laboratory Association’s Missions of Mercy Committee.

N.C. Missions of Mercy is a community outreach program that hosts about 12 free dental clinics per year across the state. Founded in 2003 by Dr. Steve Slott of Burlington, the program was taken over by the North Carolina Dental Society in 2010.

According to the N.C. Missions of Mercy website, the goals of the program are to provide free dental care to as many underserved persons within North Carolina as possible and to involve as much of the state dental community in the treatment of the underserved as possible.

In 2011, N.C. Missions of Mercy saw over 8,300 people throughout the state and provided $4.2 million worth of anterior dental appliances. After hosting dental clinics at the Jackson County Health Department in Sylva over the past seven years, this will be N.C. Missions of Mercy’s first dental clinic in Cullowhee.