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Mission of Mercy: A weekend of free dental care

Over 1,300 dentists, students and volunteers came together Friday and Saturday to provide free dental care through Mission of Mercy (MoM). MoM is a nationwide event that started in Virginia in 2000, and came to Wisconsin for the first time in 2009. This year’s event was held at the Expo Center on Wisconsin State Fair grounds.

Listen and read below to learn more about Mission of Mercy.

Volunteers gathered together last Thursday to set up the MoM event. Doors were scheduled to open Friday at 5:30 a.m., but a line people camped out Thursday afternoon around 4 p.m. The first day brought a strong turnout. MoM logged over 800 patients treated and well over $500,000 in dental care. By day two, the line was exponentially longer.

A snake of patients stretched from the Expo Center entrance on Greenfield Avenue, wrapping around the main entrance gate of the fairgrounds on 84th street. From check-in booths to oral surgery stations with partitions and a pharmacy, families made their way through each station to be examined and treated.


Mary is an older woman I met who while she was waiting to have oral surgery. She was getting five teeth extracted. The previous day, her granddaughter drove her three hours from Wausau to Milwaukee to receive MoM treatment.

“I’ve been coming to Mission of Mercy for four or five years,” said Mary. She also says the free dental care is a “great opportunity” and saves her money during a time where she needs it most -- to pay for her husband’s chemotherapy treatments. She says if it weren’t for Mission of Mercy, she wouldn’t be able to afford any dental care whatsoever.

The MoM event is hosted in cities around Wisconsin and travels every two years. The next event, which draws people from all over the state, is scheduled to be held in 2020 in Green Bay.