POP Dental Clinic to Open This March

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dentistConstruction has already begun down in the Mission Outpost for the Prince of Peace Dental Clinic. Walls are being torn out and new ones built up. Sinks are being plumbed. Exam lights, an x-ray machine and dental chairs are being installed. By mid-March, an extra room in the lower level of the Christian Life Center will be fully transformed into a functioning dental exam room. The official ribbon cutting will be April 8th.

Once the dental clinic is open, it will serve low income residents of Burnsville and the surrounding communities of Eagan, Rosemount, Farmington, Lakeville, Apple Valley and Savage, from children to senior citizens. The clinic will provide emergency care, extractions, pain management and restorative dental services as well as basic preventative care and education. A part-time dental hygienist will serve as Clinic Coordinator; volunteer dentists and dental professionals from the area will serve as staff.

Jeff Wichmann, who has been a member of Prince of Peace since he was in junior high, has been part of the Dental Clinic planning committee. “The First Light Youth Program brought me to the church and it made a huge impact on me.  Since then, I have been looking for a way to give back to the church.” The planning committee included several dentists who offered advice and expertise based on setting up and running a dental office. They answered simple questions about what type of equipment and materials would be needed and harder questions like what types of treatment should be provided.

Dental health is a huge issue in our community. “There is a large underserved population out there and this is a way that we can increase the access to care in our community,” Jeff says. Fairview Ridges Hospital determined that dental care is one of top six health needs in our community. Over 60% of Mission Outpost guests report experiencing mouth pain, yet have no access to dental care. Most have not seen a dentist for years. Pain related to dental issues makes it hard to eat, talk and even think. It can impact someone’s ability to work and eventually support their family; between 45 and 50 people come to the emergency room at Fairview Ridges Hospital for mouth pain. Dental issues can effect heart and digestive health. And yet, there are no low-cost dental clinics in our area.

We are blessed to be able to meet this need for our neighbors. Our faithful members have donated time, effort and money to the dental clinic and the Mission Outpost. We have had excellent community partners including Patterson Dental, Dental Health Products, Fairview Ridges, Wells Fargo and a number of area dental professionals. We have dedicated staff working to help the least among us. “I would just like people to know how much work Eric Elton has put into this project,” Jeff adds. “He took on a huge challenge without a lot of dental knowledge going in.  The time and effort that he has put into this dental clinic has been astronomical.

“Throughout this process I have been very impressed with the support that our church has given us. This has been a leap of faith for them, as this has been well outside the realm of typical outreach projects that they have taken on at Mission Outpost.”

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