Million Dollar Smiles: Local dentists to donate their services

Dr. Rosalie Perpich

Stillwater dentists and area volunteers are donating their time and talent to provide 2,000 people in need with $1 million worth of dental services.

The volunteers are participating in the inaugural Minnesota Mission of Mercy (MnMOM) next month.  The Minnesota Dental Association and the

Dr. Donna Stenberg

Minnesota Dental Foundation started the program.

According to Dr. Rosalie Perpich, DDS, of Stillwater Family Dental and president of the St. Paul District Dental Society, five Stillwater-area dentists and 12 volunteers will participate in the Mankato effort. The volunteers will greet patients, escort them through the site, help with traffic and provide translation services.

“Really, we see people all the time that don’t have regular access to dental services,” Perpich said. “We have over 1,000 volunteers already so we’re really just spreading the word to make people aware that there are people that don’t have the benefit of regular dental care.”

This year’s event is in Mankato and another MnMOM event is set for Bemidji next year. The event has taken more than two years to plan. Dr. Donna Stenberg, DDS, MS and PA, of Stenberg Orthodontics, helped plan this year’s event.

“In the Twin Cities there are a number of programs that are available,” Stenberg said. “In outstate areas people are so much more dispersed and the need for services like this is stronger there. Mankato and Bemidji are certainly big enough to draw a crowd, but also outstate enough for people who can’t just hop in the car and drive up to the cities.”

This event is unique because unlike other programs like Give Kids a Smile, Smiles Change Lives, and services aimed towards the homeless and disabled adults, anyone who is in relatively good health and without access to dental care is welcome to participate.

Both Stenberg and Perpich are very excited for this year’s event and have even gotten their husbands to sign up and help.

“To me personally, it’s all about just making a difference,” Perpich said. “I’ve participated in some other programs and it’s really fulfilling and people are really appreciative.”

“I think there’s a tremendous positive energy coming from everyone involved in this project and I think it will be extended into the success of the event and service of our patients,” Stenberg said. “There’s a real sense of collaboration between corporations, dental professionals and lay people. It’s been great to be part of that process.”

Services offered in Mankato include cleanings, fillings, extraction and limited treatment for dental appliances. There is no advance sign up and patients are seen on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The event takes place at Mankato’s Verizon Wireless Center, with doors open at 5:30 a.m. on Aug. 17 and Aug. 18. Early arrival is encouraged.