August 3, 2014

Free dental clinic expected to help 1,500 patients in York, Chester and Lancaster counties

Hundreds of volunteers will work for two days to provide as much dental care as they can to residents who can’t afford it on their own.

A person’s smile is one of the first things other people notice, says Rock Hill lawyer Dale Dove. And yet for many people in York, Chester and Lancaster counties, a great smile is unattainable because of the high cost of dental care.

On Friday and Saturday, Dove and an army of volunteers hope to make some progress in that arena, as they hold the first Dental Access Day in the York County area.

Dental Access Days provide “critical access to dental care” and are hosted by the South Carolina Dental Association and sponsored by Delta Dental. Since Dental Access Days first began in South Carolina in 2009, the free clinics held throughout the state have provided more than 7,500 adults with $3.3 million in free dental care.

Dove said events like the Dental Access Day are important because dental care is health care. People need it just like they need to go to the doctor, but there’s no emergency room for teeth.

He was told that more than 500 people went to the emergency room at Piedmont Medical Center with dental-related issues in the first four months of April alone. They couldn’t be treated.

“You’ve got people out there that are struggling every day with dental problems,” Dove said.

This clinic is a first step toward providing community-wide dental care, he said, and shows that the community is ready to step up to help others with this problem.

At other Dental Access Days in South Carolina, people have begun showing up in the early hours of the morning to get in line for the free care. Organizers advise that people could spend all day in line while waiting to see the hundreds of clinical volunteers who will be available, all of whom are trained dentists or hygienists who have given their time.

All patients will have X-rays taken and be evaluated. Patients then will receive one treatment, like a professional cleaning, an extraction or restorative care.

Dentures will not be provided and no services are available for children under age 18.

All patients will get free dental supplies such as toothpaste, toothbrush and dental floss.

Friday and Saturday’s clinic, which will be held at the First Baptist Church in Rock Hill, is expected to see 1,500 patients from the area, said event spokesperson Kelly Davis in a release.

“It’s fast and furious, literally for two days,” Dove said.

This event is intended for people who don’t have insurance or the ability to pay for their dental care, Dove said. Patients are encouraged not to bring any children along because it will be very busy and there is no child care available.

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