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Thousands of patients to receive free dental care during two-day event

Patients with a pressing medical needs will be treated in a state-of-the-art facility

Patients with a pressing medical needs will be treated in a state-of-the-art facility

Patients with a pressing medical needs will be treated in a state-of-the-art facility

HOUSTON – (Feb. 7, 2014) – The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Dentistry will host the Texas Mission of Mercy (TMOM) and Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) programs, which will provide free dental care to prescreened and walk-in patients on Feb. 7-8, 2014.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Texas oral health professionals to come together and serve our community” said UTHealth School of Dentistry community outreach director Margo Melchor, R.D.H. “We will be the first dental school in Texas to host a Texas Mission of Mercy event.  Since oral health disparities is a profound issue in the United States, this collaboration enables all volunteers to assist with providing preventative and limited dental treatment at no cost to these patients.  

The Texas Mission of Mercy anticipates that at this event, more than 1,500 patients will be treated for fillings, extractions, and other procedures like root canals.

“There is a tremendous need for dental care in our state and our goal is to provide the best treatment for those who may have limited resources,” said Don Lutes, D.D.S, the Texas Dental Association Smile Foundation (TDA Smiles Foundation) board chairman. “What we do is much more than provide fillings or extractions. We give our patients the confidence to smile as they tackle other challenges and that is what makes this so rewarding.”

The TDA Smiles Foundation hosts various Texas Mission of Mercy events throughout the state that draw and serve thousands of patients who don’t have access to dental care. In 2013, Texas Mission of Mercy served over 2,400 patients, providing more than $1.8 million worth of care. Most adult patients selected to receive care for this event were prescreened in January at the Open Door Mission, San Jose Dental Clinic and Star of Hope Women’s Shelter.

Additionally, over 500 children will receive dental care in the Give Kids a Smile segment of the event, co-sponsored by the Greater Houston Dental Society (GHDS).  Patients were prescreened at various Houston Independent School District schools and the San Jose Dental Clinic.

“This event allows children with a pressing medical need to be treated free of charge in a state-of-the-art facility by some of the best dentists in the City of Houston,” said Give Kids a Smile chair Laji James, D.D.S. “Also, even though Houston is a large metropolitan city, Give Kids a Smile creates an opportunity for collaboration of dental personnel from the private sector, the academic community, federal and state employees, and community clinics and volunteers.  Give Kids a Smile allows all these individuals to work together to help some of the most vulnerable and needy in our city.”

Patients selected to attend the Give Kids a Smile segment of the event have received unique tickets and instructions to receive care. Texas Mission of Mercy will treat prescreened patients and additional patients who register on-site, patients who register on-site will need to be in line by 5 a.m. The number of patients who receive care will be limited to the amount of dentists and volunteers available. It is highly recommended that all patients bring any medication they currently use. Additionally, it is advised that only those who seek care attend the event, due to limited parking.

This is the first time the UTHealth School of Dentistry hosts a Texas Mission of Mercy event. The UTHealth School of Dentistry and GHDS have partnered to host Houston-area Give Kids a Smile events most years since its inception in 2003.

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About the Texas Dental Association Smiles Foundation

The Texas Dental Association Smiles Foundation (TDA Smiles Foundation) is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public and profession about oral health and improving access to dental care for the citizens of Texas. Since 2001, Texas dentists have treated more than 27,000 patients and provided more than $13 million in charitable dental care at mission events. For more information, please visit

TDASF is the affiliated foundation of the Texas Dental Association. Chartered in 1871, the Texas Dental Association (TDA) is the third largest state dental association in the United States. The Association has more than 8,800 members and is comprised of 26 local component dental societies grouped into 4 divisions across the state of Texas. The TDA is part of a tripartite affiliation with the American Dental Association at the national level and community dental societies at the local level.

About the Greater Houston Dental Society

The Greater Houston Dental Society (GHDS) is the local component of the Texas Dental Association (TDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA). Founded in 1904, the GHDS is the fourth largest component (local) society in the United States with a current membership of over 1,600. Our members are committed to providing the highest quality oral health care to the Greater Houston community and are dedicated to the principles of ethics, professional advancement, and advocacy.

About The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Dentistry

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Dentistry has set the standard for oral health excellence by educating outstanding dentists and dental hygienists, discovering new oral health advancements and caring for the people of Texas for more than 100 years. As the only dental school in southeast Texas, the School of Dentistry is a primary source of quality oral health care for low-income families, the traditionally underserved and for patients with special needs and/or medical co-morbidities. For more information visit,  

Edgar Veliz
Media Contact: 713-500-3030