Hundreds of South Plains residents receive free dental care - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/13/09

Hundreds of South Plains residents receive free dental care

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By Brittany Pieper  - bio | email

 LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -Friday, hundreds of volunteers from Lubbock and across the state gave free dental care to low income adults who have no dental insurance. That's why people lined up at the Civic Center before the sun came up for the Texas Mission of Mercy clinic.

The group has held 18 clinics since 2001, but this is their first in Lubbock. "Our community had a big need for people, who had no access to dental care, and so a group of dentists and community volunteers about 22 months ago and we started the planning stages," said Dental Chair, Dr. Kathleen Nichols. 

After all that planning, the free clinic opened its doors to hundreds of West Texans who needed cavities filled, teeth pulled, and acrylic partials made. "We see people that have infections, oral health infections, gum infections, abscess teeth that affects their ability to work. It affects their ability to go to school, to perform just the daily tasks that people need to perform, and there are thousands of people like that in Lubbock," said Fundraising Chair, Dr. Jay Adkins. 

Sarah Downs drove more than six hours to attend the clinic. She knocked three of her teeth out when she fell off a fence a few years ago. "I had the opportunity to get the teeth that I've had knocked backward fixed and replaced. I couldn't pass it up. It was a big blessing for me to be able to come," she said. 

Friday, Downs had her teeth cleaned, two extractions, and a mold made. On Saturday she'll get acrylic partials to give her the smile she's missed. "I really would like to be able to smile in front of people and not be concerned about it," said Downs. 

She also thinks it will help her professionally. "I think people make judgment calls based on people's looks, or how they speak, or just little things. It's unfortunate, but it's kind of how today's society is," said Downs. 

Texas Mission of Mercy treated 504 patients Friday with a total of $289,262 worth of free dental work.  

The clinic continues on Saturday and lasts from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. If you want treatment you must be able to give a list of medications you are taking and a current medical history.  Organizers also ask patients have time to wait because most patients will be there for at least a few hours.

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