2,000 people to receive free dental care at 'Mission of Mercy' event in Phoenix

The Central Arizona Dental Society Foundation has been holding clinics like today's for eight years, providing thousands with the care they so badly need.

"I've been in line since Wednesday morning at 7," Katherine Hill said.

Hill was number 133 in a line of thousands waiting for free dental care. She has two cavities and needed a cleaning.

"It’ll be nice to eat a salad without warming it up or drink cold water without having a straw," she said. "Just those the daily satisfactions we have out of life and when you have teeth problems, so many things can occur."

"We got involved because the other states were doing it and my wife is an endodontist," Kevin Conroy said. "[She] actually went to visit other states and her and a few of her colleagues said, 'you know what, we need to start this in Arizona because the need is so overwhelming,' and that was the time of the state legislature had eliminated adult benefits for dental out-of-access plan in 2010, so half million people were left with no way to get a tooth pulled."

Conroy is the executive director of the Central Arizona Dental Society Foundation. The non-profit puts on the "Mission of Mercy" event where its goal is to deliver much-needed dental care to keep patients out of the emergency room where so many go to seek relief from pain.

Over 1,000 thousand volunteers help make this possible, including 300 dentists.

"I talk to people, they say, 'why do you do this?' I love this. I live for this kind of stuff -- running a business that's not a lot of fun. Doing this, this is so rewarding," Conroy said. 

Patients spend an average of an hour in the chair, whether it's a cleaning, filling, or even a root canal. Every single one of them say the wait is worth it.

Another 1,000 patients will be treated Saturday. Doors to Veteran's Memorial Coliseum on the Arizona State Fairgrounds open at 6 a.m.