Free dental clinic to continue Saturday

Friday, August 10, 2018
(News 12 First at 5)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Just beyond the curtains temporarily up inside James Brown Arena sat hundreds of oral care providers Friday, all hoping to treat and educate those taking advantage of a free two-day clinic.

Dr. Thomas McDonald is happy to help out.

“One of the most impactful things as how many people I’ve seen this morning already that don’t have some of their front teeth, so we’re going to be able to give them those back by the end of the day today. That’s going to be the fun part,” Dr. McDonald beamed his pearly whites while talking to News 12 Friday.

Andre Greer isn’t one of those patients who need all new teeth, but he does have some tooth trouble.

“One day I was eating dinner and my front teeth fell out,” said Greer. “I said ‘oh my gosh what am I gonna do now’?”

Andre says he hasn’t had a front tooth since May, but due to the cost of dental care he couldn’t afford to get it fixed.

“For one extraction alone you go to the dentist and it’s already overpriced. It’s $1,500 or more. Today it’s a lot of savings I’ve done.”

Patients like Andre keep Dr. Thomas doing the job he loves.

“I always get choked up at these things, but I’m always blown away with how appreciative the patients are. We get more out of it than they do.”

Meanwhile, Andre and others like him get a new smile and gains knowledge about dental health.

The doors of the James Brown Arena will open up again at 5:00 a.m. Saturday, but beyond this clinic dentists suggest going to AU Health’s Dental School.

They say that they provide some lower costs dental services that may not hurt your pockets as much as a private dentist will

Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018
News 12 at 11

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) — 100 dental chairs and 1,300 volunteers are ready to go when the doors at the JBA open on Friday morning.

The lights inside the James Brown Arena illuminating a new issue this weekend, dental care.

Neva Hjort drove all the way from Davisboro for the treatment.

“I went two years ago to a local doctor to see what needed to be done and he said I needed to have, like, $7,000 worth dental work done and I just didn’t go back,” she said.

Like many, she has a mouthful of problems.

“I haven’t had a lot of pain, but my teeth are broken. Every time I eat I get food inside the cavities and stuff. It’s a real pain to get out.”

Dentist Michael Vernon says any kind of treatment is available, cleanings, extractions, fillings and even root canals.

But they’re also educating thousands who can’t afford dental insurance about their options like applying for Christ Community Health Services or Augusta University Dental School.

“If they become a patient of the dental school, they can almost count on it being about a third of the cost as it does at an outside dental office,” said Michael Vernon, Chairman, Foundation for Oral Health.

They’re only offering one specific service per patient but Vernon says it goes a long way.

The Georgia Health Policy Center says 27 percent of Georgians between 35 and 44 have untreated tooth decay.

And the older you get, the worse the stats. A third of Georgians over 65 have tooth decay.

“We understand that we can’t solve all their problems. We’re not pretending to do a comprehensive exam and do all their treatment, but we want to help as many people as we can,” Vernon said.

Neva says the connections made here will keep her smiling for years to come.

“It’s probably the first time I’ve felt positive about going to the dentist in a long time,” Hjort admits.

Christ Community Health Services offers low-cost dental plans with a sliding pay scale that depends on how much you make.

But their Georgia Mission of Mercy is not skimping out here they’re expected to perform 1.7 million dollars worth of dental procedures over these two days.

It’s first come, first served and the doors open each day at five.

8:35 a.m.
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) — The Georgia Dental Association and its Foundation for Oral Health is hosting its fourth Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic at the James Brown Arena from August 10th through 11th.

According to a release, the program is open to low- or no-income adults. They say the clinic is staffed by more than 1,300 volunteer dentists, dental professionals and community members from around the state. It provides immediate, donated dental care to those in need, while placing a high priority on patients suffering from dental infection or pain.

They say basic dental services will be offered, including cleanings, fillings and extractions. To provide services to as many people as possible, each patient will receive one dental service as well as preventive dental education. Patients will be seen on a first-come, first-serve basis until the clinic reaches capacity, which typically occurs late morning.

They say interpreters for some languages will be available to assist patients who cannot speak English.

Doors open at 5am each day.