Iowa Mission of Mercy to Host Free Dental Clinic in Des Moines


The last time the Iowa Dental Foundation’s annual free two-day dental clinic, known as the Iowa Mission of Mercy, hosted its clinic in Des Moines was in 2013.

About $1.3 million in dental care was provided free to 1,475 patients, said Zach Kouri, president of the Iowa Dental Foundation and chief clinic officer of the Iowa Mission of Mercy.

The foundation announced at a press conference Wednesday that the dental clinic will return to Des Moines in November. And this year, Kouri hopes to serve at least 1,800 patients for $1.5 million in free dental care.

“I think this will be our best grace mission in Iowa,” Kouri said.

When and where will the free dental clinic take place?

This year’s clinic will be held from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. on November 4 and 5 at the Varied Industries Building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Who can attend the free dental clinic?

The clinic is open to all ages. No appointment is necessary.

Kouri said many of those attending don’t have insurance and can’t afford dental treatment. The clinic also serves many members of the Amish community and those who are not housed, Kouri said.

“It’s really a mission of compassion…there really is a need – no matter where the patients live, how much money they earn or if they have insurance, we do our best to welcome everyone who need dental care,” Kouri said.

“To organize this free event demonstrates what I have always known to be true: we are a community that cares about each other,” added Polk County Supervisor Robert Brownell.

What services are offered at the free dental clinic?

People wishing to visit the clinic are asked to bring their patient history with them. At the clinic, people can expect to receive a variety of services, such as cleanings, root canals, extractions, and fillings. Kouri said there are also a limited number of partial dentures available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Crowns, full dentures or implants are not provided at the clinic due to time constraints, Kouri said.

Volunteers and donations needed for the free clinic: “It’s a rewarding experience”

At the press conference, Kevin Baker, chairman of the local Iowa Mission of Mercy committee, stated the need for volunteers and donations.

Dental professionals are needed to volunteer, he said, such as dentists, hygienists and dental assistants. Baker added that community volunteers are needed to help direct patients to direct clinic locations and translation services, particularly in Spanish, Bosnian and African and Asian dialects.

“It’s a rewarding experience,” Baker said.

More information, as well as volunteer and donation opportunities, can be found at

Iowa Mission of Mercy began in 2008 and has since hosted numerous clinics across the state, providing more than 15,000 patients with free dental care, totaling more than $10 million in services, according to Laurie Traetow, secretary and treasurer of the Iowa Dental Foundation.

Clinics were not held in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andrea Sahouri covers social justice for the Des Moines Register. She can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @andreamsahourior by phone 515-284-8247.


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