(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The midwest's largest dentist office will be at St. Joseph's Civic Arena on Friday.
It's part of a Missouri Dental Association outreach program providing free dental care to anyone who needs it.
St. Joseph dentists Dr. Tim Taylor and Dr. Timothy Curry are heading up the efforts locally to coordinate the event.
"We'll be providing primarily dental cleanings, extractions, some fillings, and sometimes we'll do a root canal or make a simple, removable type of pliance to replace a person's front tooth or something like that," Curry said.
The Mission of Mercy clinic is now in its 8th year, rotating to a different location throughout the state each year. This will be its first stop in northwest Missouri.
Curry says he's estimating anywhere from 700 to 1,000 people to come to the one-day event.
"We almost look like a MASH unit," Curry said, describing what will be the floor of the Civic Arena. "There will be a lot of portable, removable dental equipment set up one line after another."
Curry said there are a lot of reasons why people neglect their dental care.
"Sometimes they're afraid, sometimes they don't have the money, sometimes their health is bad, sometimes transportation," he said. "There's a lot of reasons people don't seek care."
When people avoid a trip to the dentist, reports say it can lead to serious consequences.
AND WHEN PEOPLE AVOID A TRIP TO THE DENTIST, REPORTS SAY IT CAN LEAD TO SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES.
"Probably the last 8 or 10 years there have been more and more studies that pointed to a causation or coorelation to heart disease bacterial pneumonia, stroke, diabetes," Taylor said.
Since 2011, the clinic has served more than 11,000 patients and provided more than $7 million in free dental care. It's a result that has brought a sense of pride to both Taylor and Curry.
"The dentists get a lot out of it. As always, when you give, you get more back."
Taylor said he became a dentist because he liked to help people.
"It really makes you feel good knowing you've made a difference in people's lives," Taylor said.
The free dental clinic will be Friday at the Civic Arena starting at 7 a.m. People will be served on a first-come, first-served basis. However, pre-screenings will be available from 1-5 p.m. Thursday afternoon to avoid the line on Friday.
There are no restrictions on participating except that organizers ask that patients be at least five years of age.
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