News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, January 2, 2014
Stonington dentist helps patients in New Orleans

Brian van Emmerik on a dental mission in New Orleans

Dr. Brian van Emmerik on the clinic floor at the Mission of Mercy event in New Orleans. Also pictured is his assistant, Jada, a sophomore dental student at Louisiana State University School of Dentistry, and one of his patients, Barbara.

Photo courtesy of Mission of Mercy

On a Sunday in early November, 1,100 dental professionals and supporters came together to provide nearly 800 people free dental care in one day, according to a news release. Island dentist Dr. Brian van Emmerik was among those doctors who volunteered their time.

Doors opened at 5:30 a.m. and the work began in Mardi Gras World, a warehouse on the bank of the Mississippi River, better known for making and housing floats for the famous parades.

This was the first American Dental Association Mission of Mercy charity dental clinic, held in conjunction with the Annual Session. It was hosted by America’s Dentists Care Foundation and the Louisiana Dental Association and supported by generous donations of material, equipment, and time of many corporate sponsors.

“This is a great success,” said coordinator Lani Becker of the Wisconsin Dental Association. She said that the three major goals of the event were met: “Raise enough money to support it; recruit enough volunteers to staff it; and treat around 1,000 patients.”

People of all ages were treated. Children had cleanings and tooth care instruction by hygienists. Older patients had fillings and extractions and dentures were made in one day. Smiles and hugs were seen all around the floor. There were many stories the people wanted to share of years of going without dental care and gratitude that this changed on this Sunday.

Dr. van Emmerik was also grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this special day. He worked the early shift, from 5:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., doing fillings and extractions. This was his first MOM event but not likely to be the last.