The Crusader Newspaper Group

Thousands expected for free dental care event July 22-23 in Rockford

After a four-year absence, the Illinois State Dental Society Foundation’s Mission of Mercy is back to provide dental care to those in need. 

The return of one of Illinois’ most important charitable health care giveaway events happens this week, with thousands expected to get the dental attention they need coming to Rockford from around the region and across state lines.

The Illinois State Dental Society Foundation is restarting its Mission of Mercy event this summer after a four-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Foundation is the charitable arm of the organization representing dentists since 1865.

The event, conducted every other summer and last held in Springfield in 2018, brings together more than 1,000 volunteer dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental students and lay volunteers from across Illinois.

Over two days of intense care, about 2,000 patients will receive about $1 million in free dental care – everything from cleanings and fillings to extractions and partial dentures, all based on the individual patient’s needs. All services are provided by licensed dental professionals donating their time over the two days to help others.

The event is set for this Friday, July 22, and Saturday, July 23, at the UW Health Sports Factory at 305 S. Madison St. in Rockford. Doors open both days at 6 a.m., and all care is provided on a first-come, first-served basis (no appointments). Organizers are setting up for the event on Thursday, July 21.

The ISDS Foundation created the biannual Mission of Mercy in 2010 to provide care for those who otherwise could not afford or access it, with a high priority on patients suffering from dental infection and pain. Patients receiving treatment during the two-day event are taught the importance of good daily oral hygiene practices, healthy diet and routine preventative dental care, and the event serves a strong public reminder of the tremendous needs for critical dental care in the host city and around the region.

More than 1,000 volunteers in various roles are needed to ensure everything goes smoothly, and headed into this week, 830 of those slots have been filled. The Foundation could still use volunteers, especially those who serve as patient ambassadors who walk patients through the process as they come to be treated.

Learn more about the event at its Facebook page: And sign up to volunteer here:

Veterans of the U.S. military receive priority care through the Veterans First program, including medical screening on setup day Thursday, July 21, and priority entry to the clinic on Friday.

All patients will be required to wear masks as part of standard COVID-19 protocols in place in dental offices.

More about the event’s history, questions and answers for patients and other helpful information is available at the ISDS Foundation’s Mission of Mercy website:

“We are so excited to see the months of planning and preparing come together in Rockford to make the return of Mission of Mercy our best one yet,” said Dr. Tom Sullivan, ISDS Foundation President and an event organizer.

“We encourage anyone who has not received proper dental treatment during the pandemic to arrive early and visit us on the event days, and we appreciate anyone who can help join us as volunteers as the event nears. We look forward to two great days of giving back to the people of Rockford and the region.”

Please read through the detailed Mission of Mercy media toolkit included below for more information on the event and what to expect on the event days.


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