WATERLOO (KWWL) -
Trips to the dentist are not always enjoyable, and some would argue the visits are rather expensive, especially for those without healthcare coverage.
To help assist people with dental care costs, the Iowa Mission of Mercy (IMOM) offers free dental clinics for anyone in need of dental care. IMOM is a program that began in Waterloo in 2008, offering free clinics all over the state of Iowa.
"The results were exceedingly gratifying because we found out there were a number of people that had no other source for their dentistry, and they really needed some help," Marty Averill said, the Local Arrangements Chair for IMOM.
The free clinics function on a first come, first served basis. Both adults and children can receive dental care.
IMOM has served roughly 8,500 people since it started in 2008. Averill said that's equivalent to $5 to $6 million in free dental care.
Averill said people come from all across the Midwest to the Iowa clinics; he's seen people from Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and South Dakota.
"People who know about it will start lining up the night before, so when we open the clinic in the morning, sometimes we'll have 100 to 200 people waiting in line to get in," Averill said.
Covenant Medical Center doctors said dental hygiene plays a significant role in one's overall health.
"Many diseases manifest themselves in the mouth, or treatments of medical conditions then cause issues in the mouth," Dr. Diane Heindl said.
Dentists will perform extractions, fillings and sometimes root canals during the free clinics.
The IMOM clinic will be held Friday, Sept. 26 and Saturday, Sept. 27 at the Five Sullivan Brothers in downtown Waterloo. The doors will open to the public starting at 6 a.m. both days, and stay open until roughly 7 p.m. both nights.
Those planning to go to the free clinic don't have to show or provide anything; there will only be health history forms to fill out on site. Health professionals remind people to take any and all prescribed medications even during the clinic, if there is a specific time at which doctors have recommended such medication to be taken.
Organizers expect to see anywhere from 1,200 to 1,500 people at the clinic this year.