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Volunteer dentists to treat up to 2,000 people in northland – for free

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For as many as 2,000 people in northern Minnesota who have trouble paying for their dental work, relief is coming in the form of a "massive" two-day free clinic this weekend.

The Minnesota Mission of Mercy (MOM), a program that brings together over a thousand volunteers – including practicing dentists – to provide free dental care to needy children and adults, will be taking patients at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center on Friday and Saturday, according to a news release.

The services being provided are cleanings, filling, extractions, "limited treatment for partial dental appliances," and some root canals in front teeth.

The release says adults and children of all ages qualify as long as they are in "reasonably good health," and that they will not be required to sign up in advance, provide photo I.D. or any other personal documentation.

Patients will be seen on a first come, first served basis beginning at 5:30 a.m. on both days.

According to its website, the Minnesota MOM got its start in Virginia, Minnesota and has treated more than 5,000 patients with $3,137,603 in donated services since 2012.

It's run by the Minnesota Dental Association and the Minnesota Dental Foundation and is similar to a national version of the program that launched in the 1990s.

The nationwide MOM states that because it is a faith-based organization that receives no government funding, it can provide healthcare without "pre-qualifications," meaning patients don't have to prove their poverty or residency to receive help.

The free clinic is similar to the annual Give a Kids a Smile event, which combines the efforts of about 200 dental offices across the state to provide free care to the state's needy children.

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