Fairgrounds serve as giant dentist office for free care - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Fairgrounds serve as giant dentist office for free care

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Some had their teeth cleaned while others had cavities filled. Some had their teeth cleaned while others had cavities filled.
Would-be patients fill out forms early Saturday morning. Would-be patients fill out forms early Saturday morning.
Costs were covered by various donations, grants and sponsorships. Costs were covered by various donations, grants and sponsorships.
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - A trip to the dentist is not always a pleasurable experience but the thought of having their teeth drilled, poked and prodded didn’t stop hundreds of Bay area residents from showing up at an unusual location Saturday for some free dental work.

As a matter of fact some even showed up Friday night to wait in line for the chance to have their teeth fixed.

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For the two-day event one building at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Hillsborough County was transformed into a giant dentist office. Organizers estimate that more than 900 people lined up for the no-cost dental care.

Terry Buckenheimer was among the dentists providing the service and he was happy to do so.

“It is heart wrenching to see that they’d be willing [to wait in line],” he said. “It’s a blessing [for us] because we get to provide that service.”

The free dental care ranged from the basic teeth cleaning and cavity filling to more complex procedures. Ira Crosser showed up hoping to alleviate some pain he’d been experiencing since a recent mishap.

“I am looking to get my teeth extracted because I fell and broke them,” Crosser explained before taking a seat in the dental chair. “They are all broken at the gum line and I’m looking to get them extracted.”

The Florida Dental Association played a major role in putting the free dental clinic together. Assisting the organization in the effort was a handful of volunteers. To cover costs grants, donations and corporate sponsorships were utilized.

Nora Noguera attended Saturday’s clinic to have a tooth removed.

“I am happy because I appreciate how the dentists want to help the poor people who don’t have insurance and are in pain,” she explained.

In several instances dental professionals took mouth impressions on Friday and provided partials for patients on Saturday.

Buckenheimer: “That really changed some lives there. It was a blessing in disguise but it really wasn’t a disguise because they wound up smiling all over the place.”

Because so many people showed up for the free dental care some had to be turned away but Joe Barker didn’t care if he didn’t get in.

“If it is a possibility that I am not seen then I am thankful for the opportunity,” Barker said. “You can never be ungrateful for what these [dental professionals] have done here.”

Organizers of the two-day event say they are planning similar clinics in the future.

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