Home Health Woman can unapologetically smile after free dental clinic

Woman can unapologetically smile after free dental clinic

WATERLOO — Katlynn Quitevis struggled to quickly find a selfie in her phone’s camera roll but now with new teeth, she expects her phone to be filled with them.

Quitevis, 26, received new front teeth from a free dental clinic in Waterloo provided by Iowa Mission of Mercy. The organization provided free dental services – such as x-rays, cleanings, extractions and fillings – to anyone who showed up.

When she arrived at the clinic after traveling from Des Moines, she described her front teeth as “black slivers” that practically chipped off at the touch.







Katlynn Quivetis received new teeth during Iowa Mission of Mercy’s free dental clinic on Friday.




After pitching a tent outside 12 hours before the event started to ensure her place in line, Quitevis received a new removable partial denture, called a flipper. The first thing she said she would do once receiving the flipper is to take a selfie.

“I’m gonna smile for the first time in a very long time and actually mean it,” she said, toothless, while waiting for the flipper. “Even without having (teeth) it’s easier for me to smile because at least this way people aren’t looking at my teeth.”

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Over 1,000 people like Quitevis waited at the Waterloo Convention Center Friday and Saturday to receive crucial dental care. Iowa Mission of Mercy started the program in 2008 in Waterloo and for the past 15 years has held an annual free dental clinic in different cities across the state. The number of patients and how much the work would have cost was not immediately available. Historically, $1 million worth of work is performed.

Zachary Kouri, IMOM’s clinic chief, said it takes hundreds of dentists, hygienists, assistants, volunteers, plumbers and electricians to make the event happen. Everyone involved worked for free.







Free Dental Clinic 1

Dental professionals provide dental care to hundreds of patients on Friday during the Iowa Mission of Mercy free dental clinic at the Waterloo Convention Center. Services provided included cleanings, fillings and x-rays.




Kouri said Waterloo has been “one of the most important” communities for the organization.

“They are always very helpful and anything we need, they do,” he said. “There’s nothing that we generally have to ask for here, which has been just great.”

Chris Aldrich, a dentist and IMOM committee co-chair, said the organization had to shut down its volunteer registration because so many people signed up to volunteer.


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Quitevis said she and her husband, Alexander, have planned to come to the IMOM event since January. She said she could no longer put off her dental care because the front teeth were rotting and her molars were “gummy.” Along with her three front teeth, her top molars were pulled. The dentists tried to pull her bottom molars but they were impacted due to incoming wisdom teeth.







Free Dental Clinic 2

Dental professionals provide dental care to hundreds of patients on Friday during the Iowa Mission of Mercy free dental clinic at the Waterloo Convention Center. Services provided included cleanings, fillings and x-rays.




Her lack of dental hygiene began when she was a child, saying she stopped brushing her teeth to spite her parents. No brushing, along with being diagnosed Ehlers Danlos Syndrome – a disorder that affects connective tissues, that can also cause dental problems – as well as autism, which makes it difficult for her to start and keep up habits, quickly eroded her teeth.







Free Dental Clinic 3

Dental professionals provide dental care to hundreds of patients on Friday during the Iowa Mission of Mercy free dental clinic at the Waterloo Convention Center. Services provided included cleanings, fillings and x-rays.




She said this resulted in her teeth not having enamel, turning into rot, and that everytime she would eat, parts of her teeth would chip off. The chipped, black teeth made her not want to smile.

“I’m a very big personality, I’m a people pleaser, I like to communicate,” she said. “But it’s hard to do when all you think about is your teeth when you’re talking or smiling for the camera.”


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Even though she saw her teeth rapidly decaying, she was scared to brush her teeth because any contact would result in chipping. She said it was a never-ending cycle of fluctuating emotions because she wanted to change her habits to brush more, but knew if she just let them rot and fall out, she wouldn’t have the teeth she hated.

However, she told herself that if she ever had her teeth fixed, she would start brushing and flossing, and hopefully get back into that habit.







Free Dental Clinic 4

Dental professionals provide dental care to hundreds of patients on Friday during the Iowa Mission of Mercy free dental clinic at the Waterloo Convention Center. Services provided included cleanings, fillings and x-rays.




With new teeth, Quitevis will be able to eat her favorite foods – pizza and shrimp tempura – without worry of chipping or her teeth falling out. She will be able to bite into an apple for the first time in five years. She can now use a fork without worrying that the prongs will get in between the gaps.

Apart from eating, she’s excited to go out and smile without having fears of people looking at her. She is also hoping her new appearance will help her get a new job – saying that one employer turned her down for not being “presentable.”







Free Dental Clinic 5

Dental professionals provide dental care to hundreds of patients on Friday during the Iowa Mission of Mercy free dental clinic at the Waterloo Convention Center. Services provided included cleanings, fillings and x-rays.




“I get teary eyed thinking that I’m getting the help, that I will be able to smile again,” she said. “It’s an amazing blessing for a lot of people and to see so many people come together just to volunteer for it, that in itself is amazing. It’s like selflessness.”