SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Local dentists are spreading smiles Saturday, providing free dental work to people without insurance. This is the fourth year the free clinic has opened its doors in Springfield.
It’s part of a national program called Dentistry From the Heart. Wilkinson Dental and other Springfield area doctors teamed up to provide just that.
“Today we’re doing extractions and cleaning,” Dr. Trent Wilkinson, with Wilkinson Dental, said.
It’s good news for Doris Brown.
“I don’t have dental insurance and I need a cleaning,” she said.
While it might sound like a small price to pay to keep her pearly whites healthy, without dental insurance, it’s a price she can’t afford.
“I’m on a fixed income,” Brown said. “I just have Social Security and a very small pension. It’s hard to make the money stretch, especially since I have some other health issues that require a lot of medications.”
It’s a problem Dr. Wilkinson sees often.
“Medicaid helps with children primarily in the state of Missouri,” he said. “Adults don’t have a whole lot of medicaid dental benefit.”
And while not everyone in need can be treated in a single day, he’s committed to cleaning up the portion of Springfield’s dental dilemma he can.
“A tooth extractions can cost anywhere from $150 to $250, so a person who gets one or more teeth out today, could save them 5, 6, $700,” Wilkinson said.
Brown says her wait in line on a beautiful Saturday is worth every penny saved.
“It’s a blessing,” she said.
Especially considering Brown, and the other patients, could easily be waiting in a different room.
“Maybe keep someone out of an emergency room,” Wilkinson said. “When a tooth gets badly infected, it can really affect a person’s health in general.”
There are always some people who miss the event and ask how they can get the care they need. Lift Up springfield is a free medical clinic, and provides year-round dental services on Fridays. The clinic always has doctors on hand, but asks for prior notice if patients need dental work done.