Free two day dental clinic starts Friday

Free two day dental clinic starts Friday

The majority of people in Arkansas don't have dental insurance.The enormous need is why several organizations are offering free dental work in Ward, Arkansas.
Hundreds turned out for a free dental fair in Ward, Arkansas on Friday. Many lost their dental insurance after getting laid off from work.  One woman who says without the dental fair she would still be in pain.  "I've been hurting for weeks," said Margaret Olive.

Margaret Olive along with many of these people are in pain because they don't have dental insurance and can't afford to see a dentist. She lost her job in February due to layoffs. Making matters worse the down economy has left her husband without a job.

Jennifer says,"Margaret when was the last time you saw a dentist?" "About ten years ago," said Margaret Olive.

She held on until the pain in her mouth became unbearable. 

Thursday night, Margaret found out about this free two day dental clinic. "I heard it on Fox16. It's an answer I've been praying for for some time," said Margaret Olive.

"At this point, it's gone so long, she's in severe pain and left with no choice, but to take the tooth out," said Dr. Emily Mehaffey.

Margaret's teeth are so decayed at least eight need to be pulled. Today, they'll extract the worst two.

Now Dr. Patrick Fields takes over, his mission, remove two of Margaret’s decayed teeth.

Minutes later, Margaret's two teeth are removed and already she's feeling better. And the best news, the dentists are going to work with Margaret to help her get the remaining six teeth pulled. Saturday, is the last day of the dental fair. It will run from 9am until 2pm.

Free two day dental clinic starts Friday

The majority of people in Arkansas, two-thirds, don't have dental insurance according to the Health Department. The enormous need is why several organizations including, Matone and Cooper Mobile Dentistry, are offering free dental work in Ward, Arkansas.

Art Brooke has been the Mayor of Ward for 10 years. He's been the legal guardian of 7-year-old Hunter Watson for four years. Hunter now has ArKidsFirst, but a few years ago, before Art started taking care of him, he didn't have insurance and several of his teeth had to be extracted because they were severely decayed.

Friday, Art is bringing him to the Ward Municipal Complex for the free dental clinic. "He'll have a follow up type screening, to see if he needs additional work," he explained.

The City of ward, population 2600, doesn't have a doctor’s office or a dentist’s office, which is why organizers decided to hold the dental fair here.

"The need's there; we've been getting a lot of calls," said Mayor Brooke.

But the need is not only big in Ward, it's big throughout Arkansas. Last year, there were major crowds at a free dental fair in Little Rock, where hundreds waited for hours to see a dentist.

"You hate to see people in pain and not be able to access healthcare," said Milton Garris of the Lonoke Hometown Health Coalition. He says being in a recession has made it harder for Arkansans to go to the dentist even if they're in pain.

"It's really sad," he said. "We are one of the richest nations, but our own population is under-served by dentistry."

The dental fair is Friday from 9am to 4pm. And on Saturday from 9am until 2pm. The dental fair will be held in the gym at the Ward Municipal Complex at 501 Hickory. Everyone is invited.
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