Man smiling at 2017 Mission of Mercy and Health Equity Festival

1 in 5 adults avoid smiling due to the condition of their mouth and teeth, according to the ADA Health Policy Institute.

September 5, 2019

College Park, Md

Mid-Maryland Mission of Mercy & Health Equity Festival will provide free dental & health care services for more than 1,000 adults in need.

Media contact: Kelly Blake, 301-405-9418

The University of Maryland School of Public Health's Center for Health Equity, the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington and the Maryland State Dental Association Foundation will host the Mid-Maryland Mission of Mercy & Health Equity Festival at the Xfinity Center at the University of Maryland on September 13 & 14.

The event will transform the Terrapins' basketball court into a mobile dental clinic with over 100 chairs to provide more than 1,000 people in need with more than $1.5 million in free dental care.

Approximately 1,000 volunteers, including licensed dentists, hygienists and dental assistants, will provide comprehensive professional dental services, including cleanings, fillings, extractions, silver nitrate treatment, oral hygiene education and more. Many of the volunteer clinicians come from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, an event partner. The two-day event will also feature the Health Equity Festival, which will offer health screenings and preventive services to people who may experience other chronic health issues.

Maryland remains one of just 15 states that does not fully cover dental care for adults on Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income people. Staggeringly, more than 30 percent of adults have not had a dental visit in the past year, and more than a quarter of adults are living with untreated dental caries. Nearly 20% of low-income Maryland adults say their mouth and teeth are in poor condition and more than half experience chronic dental pain. This population often encounters barriers to accessing dental services, including cost, lack of dental insurance, lack of access to dental services, fear of dental procedures or lack of awareness.

This year, Maryland took an important step forward with the Medicaid adult dental pilot program, which serves more than 33,000 dual-eligible (Medicaid and Medicare) adults ages 21-64. The benefit includes preventative, diagnostic, and restorative services, as well as extractions.

Poor oral health can contribute to other health problems such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes. If not treated, tooth infections can even lead to death and tooth loss can contribute to poor nutrition because people, especially the elderly, cannot chew food properly. Dental and health care services will be provided to all adults over the age of 18 on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Through the Health Equity Festival, people will also be connected with health care resources and social services to support their ongoing health and well-being.

This year’s event is made possible with generous support from Cigna Foundation, presenting sponsor of the Mid-Maryland Mission of Mercy, and Kaiser Permanente, presenting sponsor of the Health Equity Festival. Other sponsors include ZystemsGo, Adventist Healthcare, Sandy Spring Bank, City of College Park, Whiting-Turner, The Robb Cohen & Gail Schwartz Family, Elisabeth and Patrick Hervy, Expert Smiles, Hooks Book Events, Helen J. Serini Foundation, The Powers Family Foundation, Southern Maryland Dental Society, Dental Equipment Specialists, MidAtlantic Dental Transitions, Patterson Dental, Guardian, and Arminco, Inc.

Media Advisory»

2019 Mission of Mercy and Health Equity Festival
Friday, September 13 and Saturday, September 14, 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Where: XFINITY Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
RSVP: Media should RSVP to Kelly Blake at kellyb@umd.eduand Alexandra Schauffler at alex.schauffler@cc-dc.organd check-in outside of Heritage Hall on Xfinity Center Plaza Level (Level 2)

Media should RSVP to Kelly Blake at
and Alexandra Schauffler
Plaza Level
(Level 2)

Refer clinical partners to serve at the 2019 Mission of Mercy and Health Equity Festival »
Sign up to volunteer at the 2019 Mission of Mercy and Health Equity Festival »

For more information about the Mid-Maryland Mission of Mercy, visit

This is the third time that the University of Maryland School of Public Health has partnered to organize the Mid-Maryland Mission of Mercy and Health Equity Festival. Watch a video about the partnership.

Related Links

Event Page for 2019 Mid-Maryland Mission of Mercy & Health Equity Festival: Free Adult Dental Clinic

How the home of the Terps became a house of smiles: LiveBIG 2017-18