A group of Troy University alumni are among the staff members at a Dothan dental clinic that gave back to the community by providing free care to the underprivileged during annual “Dental Mission Days.”
The dentists and staff at Southern Dental held the third annual Dental Mission Day in February and provided free dental exams, cleanings, oral hygiene instruction and emergency care to about 80 children and adults in the community who would not otherwise have had access to dental care.
Dr. Clay Wright, a 1996 TROY graduate, said the group was inspired to start the Dental Mission Day program after he and other members of the dental team participated in international medical mission trips. Once back home, Wright said they realized that mission work is not something that has to always be done in other countries.
“We realized that we didn’t have to go overseas in order to help people, that there are many people here locally that we could help as well,” Dr. Wright said.
Southern Dental works closely with local churches, the Department of Human Resources and the House of Ruth to spread the word about Dental Mission Day each year. In addition to dental care, nurses and other volunteers are on hand to provide other services including counseling, flu shots and blood pressure and blood sugar checks.
Dr. Wright said the group was not sure what to expect when they decided to host the first Dental Mission Day. They opened the doors at 8 a.m. and planned to treat as many people as possible. The response was overwhelming.
“We didn’t slow down all day. It really opened our eyes to how great the need is in the community,” Dr. Wright said. “I was really surprised at how many homeless people we had come in.”
Dental Mission Day has steadily grown each year, and the team hopes that other dental clinics or agencies will want to get involved, said hygienist Amy Enfinger, a 1989 TROY graduate.
“Our hope is that this will continue to grow. Eventually, we’d love to see this become a citywide dental mission day,” she said. “We just want to raise awareness that there are people in our community in need.”
Other TROY graduates who took part in Dental Mission Day were volunteer Jan Beasely, a 1972 gradate, and front desk clerk Katie Brown, a 2010 graduate.