Over 900 attend Mission of Mercy at CCRI

For the second year in a row, the dental clinic at CCRI's Flanagan campus in Lincoln was the setting for the Mission of Mercy, providing what for many is out of reach: dental care.

From fillings to cleanings, the range of services here ran the gamut.

"Oral health is connected to overall system health, your whole body, everything starts with the mouth," said Jessica Mendes, President of the Rhode Island Dental Hygienists' Association.

David Charbonneau of Pawtucket came for a tooth extraction.

"I went to an oral surgeon they were going to charge me over twelve hundred dollars to extract it and I don't have insurance," said Charbonneau.

Oral surgeon Dr. Frederick Hartman was one of the hundreds of professionals volunteering at the clinic.

"You hear their stories, where they've come from, how patiently they've waited, not only in line, but months on end with pain, swelling, and uncertainty," said Dr. Hartman.

{}Last year Mission of Mercy saw about eight hundred patients and provided some three hundred thousand dollars worth of free dental care.

They topped that this year, with more than nine hundred patients served, including Dona Smith of Providence who came for prosthetics and waited a long time.

"Every year I kept saving up for the dentist, but I never could. Everything else kept coming up ahead of it that was more important, you've got to prioritize," said Smith.

"This allows us as professionals to give back to the community, most of these are community people. They're having a hard time and we do what we can to help them out," said Dr. Jeffrey Dodge, president of the Rhode Island Oral Health Foundation, which sponsored the free dental clinic along with the Community College of Rhode Island and Delta Dental of Rhode Island.