a large room with patients receiving dental care
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Pitt health sciences volunteers provided free dental, eye and hearing care at a recent clinic

  • Health and Wellness
  • Community Impact
  • School of Dental Medicine
  • School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
  • School of Medicine

More than 300 alumni, faculty and students from Pitt Dental Medicine, Pitt Medicine, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) and the UPMC Eye and Ear Institute served more than 1,400 community members during the Mission of Mercy Pittsburgh 2022 clinic, held Aug. 5-6 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Nearly 7,000 procedures valued at $900,000 were provided, totaling about $700 worth of free services per patient.

Since 2017, the University of Pittsburgh Schools of Health Sciences and A Call to Care, Inc. have joined other community partners in the annual Mission of Mercy Pittsburgh (MOMPGH) event. The two-day dental clinic unites teams of clinical and nonclinical volunteers to serve one purpose: provide free health care to those in the community who need it most.

In addition to full dental exams, cleanings, minor restoration, fillings, extractions, root canals and oral hygiene instructions, MOMPGH also offered free eye and ear care. Students, alumni and clinical instructors from the SHRS audiology department tested the hearing of 417 individuals and fitted hearing aids on 229 people in need. The Eye and Ear Institute also tested the vision of about 750 people and gave out 700 pairs of eyeglasses. All services were provided free of charge by local providers, assisted by an enthusiastic team of volunteers.

In the Pittsburgh community, about 37% of people have not been a dentist in the last year, 39% actively suffer from dental pain and 22% have visited the emergency department due to untreated dental pain.

Untreated dental issues can lead to bigger health problems, such as allowing pathogens to enter the blood steam, which can tax the immune system and lead to infections in the heart, eventually leading to cardiovascular disease. Periodontitis, or gum disease, has also been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.

MOMPGH’s patients include the underserved members of the community, from veterans and individuals experiencing homelessness to uninsured families and people working multiple jobs who can’t afford to take time off to receive care. MOMPGH provides free care to veterans experiencing homeless, even if the issue isn’t a direct result of battle.

From 2017-21, MOMPGH has performed more than 20,557 procedures on 4,242 patients, totaling nearly $3 million in free care.


— Sierra Smith


This story has been updated.