Ask A Researcher

July 2022

Mission of Mercy: Giving hope through a smile.

Aastha Bhandari and Debarati Kole, Graduate Research Assistants
Dr. Nancy Hodur,Director, Center for Social Research at NDSU

Aastha Bhandari is a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center for Social Research at North Dakota State University (NDSU). Aastha is graduating in August, 2022 with MS in Business and Data Analytics from NDSU. Prior to this, she also graduated with MS in Emergency Management from NDSU. Her interests include data analysis, prediction modeling, visualization and reporting, and designing data driven solutions to complex social and organizational problems.
Debarati Kole is a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center for Social Research at North Dakota State University (NDSU). Debarati will graduate with a Sociology M.S. degree from NDSU on August 5, 2022, and continue further studies in the NDSU Developmental Science Ph.D. program from Fall 2022. Debarati is interested in working on the importance of social connection on people’s mental health issues, health promotion among elderly minorities, and health promotion through community development, during her Ph.D. studies.
Dr. Nancy Hodur is the director of the Center for Social Research at NDSU and has over 25 years of professional experience in applied research, public policy, and outreach education.

Mission of Mercy, North Dakota

Mission of Mercy, North Dakota brings together volunteers and donors to events that provide free of charge dental care, to adults and children of all ages experiencing barriers to oral health care. Mission of Mercy event goals are to help bridge the gap and provide much needed oral health care for those that do not have access to adequate dental care.

The most recent event was hosted on October 1-2, 2021, in Bismarck, North Dakota. The Bismarck Civic Center was transformed into a 40-chair dental clinic that provided urgently needed care to patients in the region. The event was made possible by the hundreds of volunteers, such as dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, oral surgeons, pharmacists, students, among many other volunteers, that organized the event and provided much needed dental care. The event was sponsored by the North Dakota Dental Association (NDDA), North Dakota Dental Foundation (NDDF), and by many other generous donors (see the Mission of Mercy website for more information on volunteers and donors - https://ndmom.org/).

Event survey details

Over the course of the two-day event, 448 volunteers treated over 670 patients. At the event, patients were given a survey to complete, asking for their responses to questions about their oral health care. Of the 670 patients, 452 people participated in the event survey. The following reflects the results of the October 2021 event survey.

While most participants were from the local area and traveled 30 minutes or less to the event (79%), 14 percent of participants traveled 31 minutes to 2 hours, and 8 percent traveled more than 2 hours to get to the event to receive dental care. Many participants had long delayed dental care needs. About one-third of participants (35%) reported it had been 3 or more years since their last dental visit, one-third of participants’ last dental visit was 1-2 years prior (33%), and one-third of participants’ last dental visit was less than 1 year before (33%). Figure 1 shows distribution of participants who indicated having dental pain. Nearly half of participants were experiencing dental pain. Of those participants experiencing dental pain, 33 percent had experienced it for 4 months or longer, 25 percent had endured the pain for 2 weeks to 1 month, and another 25 percent were experiencing pain occasionally. The data shows that a large number of people waited for months to receive dental treatment despite experiencing pain for a prolonged period.

Figure 2 depicts the length of time since participants had their teeth cleaned. Among all the participants, approximately half had their teeth cleaned two years ago or less (54%). However, 12 percent had not had their teeth cleaned for 10 years or longer, 15 percent said it had been five to nine years, and 17 percent said it had been three to four years since they had their teeth cleaned. A large majority of those attending the Mission of Mercy event had not had access to one of the most basic oral health care procedures, regular teeth cleaning.

Understanding the barriers behind not getting dental care is key to help bridge the gap and provide much needed oral health care to those who do not receive care on a regular basis. Figure 3 shows the barriers impacting participants. Lack of insurance and affordability were most frequently cited as the reason for not getting needed dental care. Three-fourths of participants indicated they did not have insurance and did not think they could afford treatment (74%) and 18 percent said they could not find a dentist that would accept a payment plan. These barriers also align with the percentage of participants that indicated they did not have third party dental insurance (70%). A large majority of participants also indicated that they don’t have a Dental Home for follow up care (70%).

Another important component to events such as Mission of Mercy is information sharing. Getting the event information out into the regional communities is vital to help those with dental care needs. When asked about how they heard about the event, half of the participants indicated that they heard from friends and family and one-third indicated they heard through social media (52% and 34%, respectively) (Figure 4). The distribution of information media in Figure 4 shows that most of the people are deviating from traditional sources like social agency, newspaper or flyers, to more digital sources like social media.

Key Outcomes

Overall, the Mission of Mercy event was beneficial for the 670 people who were seeking some form of dental treatment. The team of volunteers preformed a wide variety of procedures. X-Rays, extractions, fillings, and cleanings were the most frequently preformed procedures. Detailed procedures included: 874 X-Rays, 753 extractions, 781 fillings, and 369 composites. In addition to more routine procedures like cleanings and fluoride varnish, volunteers also preformed 35 root canals and made 35 interim partial dentures. The total value of all the services provided over the course of the two-day event was $556,480.

Many patients were suffering from dental pain and had waited months for the treatment. The lack of third-party dental coverage and affordability were the most frequently cited barrier to dental care. People who lived closer to the event benefitted the most as the event was easily accessible to the local people of Bismarck. Close-knit social circles like friends and family, and social media platforms were the most popular sources for event information. Mission of Mercy events can utilize these communication channels to help people who are in need easily access this information.

Mission of Mercy events goal is to help bridge the gap and provide much needed oral health care for those that do not have access to adequate dental care. For two days the Bismarck Civic Center was transformed, and 670 individuals received much needed dental treatment. The need for oral health care and dental services is apparent in the number of patients treated and the variety of procedures performed over the course of the event.

Events like this are important as they provide valuable services to help meet oral health needs in the region. Mission of Mercy events are made possible by not only the hundreds of volunteers that offer their services, but also by the generous donors that provide financial support for the effort. For more information about Mission of Mercy and complete event reporting see https://ndmom.org/.

Ask a researcher archive

Kendra Erickson-Dockter. Gestational Diabetes PRAMS Points – A NEW Dashboard Format!
August 2022

Aastha Bhandari, Debarati Kole, Dr. Nancy Hodur. Mission Of Mercy: Giving hope through a smile.
July 2022

Ina Cernusca.Households with children have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the first year of the pandemic.
May 2022

Andy Wiese and Karen Olson. One Health System’s Approach to Improving Community Health. Understanding what the 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment Conducted by Sanford Health means for population health
April 2022

Mariel Lopez-Valentin and Grace Njau. North Dakota Title X, Family Planning Needs Assessment
January 2022

Nancy Hodur and Dean Bangsund. North Dakota Lignite Energy Industry Workforce
December 2021

Ina Cernusca. Vaccine Acceptance and Hesitancy in North Dakota
October 2021

Nancy Hodur and Karen Olson. Rural Communities Will Benefit from a New Cooperative in Walsh County
September 2021

Matt Schmidt and Grace Njau. COVID-19 Trends Among North Dakota Children, March 2020 – March 2021
August 2021

Kendra Erickson-Dockter and Ina Cernusca. COVID Hardship on North Dakota Households: New study on the impacts on North Dakota households that lost employment income during the pandemic
July 2021

Chelsey Hukriede and Kendra Erickson-Dockter. NEW! PRAMS Points – A Brief Infographic using North Dakota PRAMS Survey Data
May 2021

North Dakota Compass: A look inside the 2021 Compass Points
April 2021

Ina Cernusca: Households with children are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
March 2021

Ina Cernusca: Differences in COVID-19 Risk Factors at District Level
February 2021

Kendra Erickson-Dockter, Chelsey Hukriede, and Grace Njau: An Introduction to the North Dakota Study of Associated Risks of Stillbirth (SOARS)
October 2020

Karen Ehrens: North Dakota Families are Facing Food and Other Hardships in the Wake of COVID-19 Pandemic, and Helpers Respond
September 2020

Ina Cernusca: Taking the pulse of North Dakota households during the COVID-19 pandemic.
July 2020

Nancy Hodur:Challenges of Grocery Stores in Rural North Dakota
May 2020

North Dakota Compass:2020 Compass Points: Measuring progress. Inspiring action.
March 2020

Amy Tichy:Student Veterans in the College Classroom.
February 2020

North Dakota Compass:North Dakota Compass launches the 2020 State Legislative District Profiles
January 2020

Grace Njau, Nancy Hodur:&Chelsey Hukriede: Risk Behaviors among Women with a Recent Live Birth in North Dakota: Findings from the 2017 North Dakota Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS)
November 2019

Ina Cernusca:& Karen Olson: Behind the scenes – The story of the North Dakota State Legislative District Profiles
October 2019

Ina Cernusca: Key demographic trends in North Dakota.
August 2019

Karen Olson: The 30th edition of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT® Data Book finds that 175,772 children will shape the future of a more diverse North Dakota.
July 2019

Shweta Arpit Srivastava & Dr. Ann Burnett: “Giving rope and pulling it back”: Parental dilemmas to prevent adolescent substance use
June 2019

Ina Cernusca: 2019 Compass Points: Setting direction for improving the quality of life in North Dakota
May 2019

Joshua Marineau and Onnolee Nordstrom: Learning from Fargo -- An Exploration of the Fargo-Moorhead Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
March 2019

Nancy Hodur: Improving Oral Health for Older Adults in North Dakota
November 2018

Rachelle Vettern: Engaging Volunteers across Generations
October 2018

Karen Olson: The 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book reveals strengths and challenges for children in North Dakota – and emphasizes that an inaccurate census in 2020 threatens to worsen existing challenges for North Dakota youth
July 2018

Lori Capouch: Is food access a concern in rural North Dakota?
May 2018

Deb Nelson: Williston Basin 2016: Employment, Population, and Housing Forecasts – An Overview
January 2018

Karen Olson: North Dakota among Top 10 States in Country for Child Well-Being
July 2017

Nancy Hodur: SEAL!North Dakota: A School Dental Sealant Program
June 2017

Grace Njau: A Brief Introduction to the North Dakota Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS)
April 2017

Ina Cernusca: North Dakota’s Women study: A brief overview
March 2017

Dean Bangsund: Effects of Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion on Spring Planting for Producers
February 2017

Deb Nelson: Vision West: Leading, Educating, and Collaborating to Mobilize the 19 Western North Dakota Counties Towards Resilience and Prosperity
December 2016

Nancy Hodur: North Dakota Statewide Housing Needs Assessment: A Brief Overview of the Population and Housing Forecast component
November 2016

Social Isolation: Experiential Narratives of African Refugee Women in the Fargo-Moorhead Community
September 2016

Sean Brotherson: Father Involvement and the Future of Children and Families
July 2016

Carol Cwiak: Bakken Oil: What Have We Learned and What Will We Do Differently Next Time
June 2016

Jessica Creuzer: The Changing Face of Western North Dakota: What are the Effects of Increased Travel from Energy Development
April 2016

ND Compass: City Profiles
February 2016

ND Department of Health: Making Change Happen
January 2016

Jennifer Weber: A Bold New Direction for the North Dakota University System - The NDUS Edge Dashboards
December 2015

Wendy Troop-Gordon: What Has Science Taught Us About Bullying?
November 2015

ND Compass: A Look at the Youngest North Dakotans
October 2015

Kendra Erickson-Dockter: Growing Older in North Dakota
September 2015

Michael Ziesch: Data You Can Trust: The Labor Market Information Center
August 2015

Malini Srivastava and Troy Raisanen: efargo: City Scale Sustainability
July 2015

Kevin Iverson: The State Repository of Census Information- The North Dakota Census
June 2015

Wonwoo Byun: Reducing Sedentary Behavior is a Key for Obesity Prevention in Children
May 2015

Kathryn Gordon: The Science of Suicide Prevention
April 2015

ND Compass: Tell a Story with Data! The Importance of Crade-to-Career Success
March 2015

Abby Gold: Community Food Systems: Food Charters and More
February 2015

Heather Fuller-Iglesias: The Importance of Recognizing the Role of Social Support in Human Development Across the Lifespan
January 2015

Michael Carbone: Using Data to End Homelessness
December 2014

Randal Coon: Tribal Colleges Contribute to the State's Economy
November 2014

Deb White: Women's Representation in Elected Office
October 2014

Randal Coon: Pull Factors Measure Retail Trade Performance
September 2014

Karen Olson: North Dakota ranks Well Nationally with Regard to Overall Child Well-Being; However, Substantial Opportunities for Improvement Exist
August 2014

Julie Garden-Robinson: Guard Against Grilling Gaffes: Healthy Grilling and Food Safety Tips
July 2014

Michael Noone: Extreme Weather Patterns- North Dakota Has It All
June 2014

Kathleen Tweeten: Why All Community Development Decisions Should Use the Community Capitals Framework
May 2014

Clayton Hilmert: Stress effects on pregnancy: The impact of the 2009 Red River flood on birth weight
April 2014

Karen Ehrens: Food Deserts and how they impact North Dakota
March 2014

Gretchen Dobervich and Kendra Erickson-Dockter: New Geographic Profiles: How they can work for you
February 2014

Compass Staff: "New Compass Team Brings Changes in 2014"
January 2014

Donna Grandbois: "Fargo-Moorhead American Indian Community-Sponsored Health Needs Assessment"
November 2013

Karen Olson: "North Dakota KIDS COUNT - why it counts for you
October 2013

Nancy Hodur: "Western North Dakota School Administrators Face Challenges"
August 2013

Megan Chmielewski: "Annual population estimates tell interesting stories about North Dakota's growth patterns"
July 2013

Ramona Danielson: "Learn how to make the ND Compass website work for you"
May 2013

Karen Olson: "About the American Community Survey (ACS)"
February 2013

North Dakota Compass

Center for Social Research
North Dakota State University

Compass created by:
Wilder Research

© 2022. All rights reserved.