Dental missions extract 447 teeth in four days in Hawkins

Jeff Bobo • Apr 1, 2019 at 5:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Approximately 320 people were served and 447 teeth removed by two mission groups over a four day period earlier this month during free dental visits that took place in Rogersville and Church Hill.

The missions were hosted and their patients scheduled by the Rogersville-based Of One Accord ministry.

On March 7-8, a new Kingsport-based medical ministry called Smiles for Miles set up at OOA’s Church Hill Medical Mission, mostly to provide free dental care, although some other specialists and services were available as well.

And on March 9-10, the Brentwood Dental Unit from the Nashville area returned to Hawkins County to conduct free dental procedures at OOA’s Shepherd Center in downtown Rogersville.

Smiles for Miles

During its two day visit, Smiles for Miles had 74 dental appointments and performed 104 extractions, 29 fillings, and 10 cleanings.

Smiles for Miles also provided 14 vision appointments and 13 chest X-rays, for a total of 244 overall free medical encounters.

The Kingsport-based ministry brought a tractor-trailer dental unit with five dental chairs, along with a 32-foot unit to do eye exams, and Dr. Joe Smiddy brought his specially built unit with the latest equipment to take X-rays.

Frank Waldo, who developed the concept of Smiles for Miles, said that through prayer God brought this new ministry about.

Waldo said he encountered a weeping woman who had not been able to receive free dental work she needed due to Remote Area Medical’s shortage of volunteer staff.

The woman had been to a RAM event three times, and each time she had been unable to reserve a seat due to limited resources.

Waldo said he prayed for the opportunity to be given where more patients could be cared for. Those prayers were answered within two weeks as he received the means and manpower with which to found the ministry and serve thousands each year.

Dr. David Schilling, medical director for the Church Hill Medical Mission, said Smiles for Miles offers just what they can’t offer in Hawkins County, which is free dental work and eyeglasses for low-income residents.

“Our clinic here in Church Hill can help with medical needs, and we serve people with diabetes. But insurance doesn’t help, and there are no other local services for dental and eye problems,” Schilling said.

Brentwood Dental Unit

During its two days in Rogersville, the Brentwood Dental Unit saw 76 patients, extracted 343 teeth, and performed 16 cleanings.

Dr. Greg Boston from Sparta First Baptist stated he had done dental mission work across America and around the world, and he finds people in Hawkins and Hancock counties have more dental needs than anywhere he’s ever worked.

OOA mission team director Mickey Wilcox schedules appointments for dental clinics, and he knows many that are on the waiting list.

Wilcox noted that one of the men who was a Brentwood patient had his remaining 28 teeth pulled.

“This man woke up every day of his life for the last few years in extreme pain due to his teeth,” Wilcox said. “This one resident suffered heart problems and had contracted some internal infections just because of his teeth problems. There are currently no programs in Hawkins County which addresses these great needs. Nor is there anything that offers services on a sliding scale basis.”

Brentwood Baptist Church designed and had its dental unit built in 2013.

It has two medical or dental exam tables to make it multipurpose, and Gary Maddox, who drives and cares for the unit, says different churches provide teams that keep the unit on the road two to three weekends a month.

The team that came to Rogersville earlier this month was from Sparta First Baptist Church. It brought three dentists to pull teeth and one dental hygienist to clean teeth.

Maddox said the dental ministry wants patients to “feel the love of Jesus, who is with us in good times and bad, on good days and times when we experience pain.”

The Brentwood Dental Unit is expected to return to Hawkins County in October.