FLORENCE, S.C. – More than 200 dental professionals will be on hand at the Florence Civic Center on Friday and Saturday for Dental Access Days, a two-day clinic providing free adult dental care.
“It’s a mercy enterprise, really. … It’s something to kind of give back to the community of folks in need,” said David Moss, a Florence dentist and local coordinator for the event.
All patients will receive X-rays and be evaluated by dental professionals to determine the type of care that is most needed. From there, patients receive one service – a professional cleaning, an extraction or a filling.
Care will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis to those 18 years of age or older.
“Unfortunately, people tend to let things go until it hurts. By then, it’s often too late for a tooth,” Moss said. “Replacing a tooth gets quite complicated. … We tend to do an awful lot of extractions, alleviating people’s pain, at these events and an awful lot of work in the front of the mouth where people like to improve their smile a little bit.”
Improving a smile can increase a person’s self-image in preparation for a job interview and the like, he added.
Dental Access Days is hosted by the South Carolina Dental Association and presenting sponsor Delta Dental. The clinic has not been held in Florence since 2011.
Since its inception in 2009, Dental Access Days has provided more than 10,000 adults with $6 million in free dental care, according to the S.C. Dental Association.
Moss hopes to see 1,200 to 1,500 people at the Florence Civic Center this weekend.
“It just lets you know how big the need is out there for dental care and dental services,” he said.
In addition to dental professionals, including hygienists and dental students from the Medical University of South Carolina, approximately 300 community volunteers will help out at the event in various ways, registering and escorting patients through the process.
All patients will be given helpful tips for establishing and maintaining a healthy mouth, as well as complimentary dental supplies, including toothpaste, a toothbrush and dental floss.
Patients should expect long lines and wait times as there are just 90 available chairs. A tent will be set up outside the Florence Civic Center to serve as a waiting area. Water will be provided, but patients should take snacks, portable chairs and sun protection.
Dental care will be available from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.