St. Louis hosts free dental clinic at Chaifetz

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by Alissa Reitmeier / News 4 and Associated Press

KMOV.com

Posted on May 2, 2014 at 5:05 AM

Updated Friday, May 2 at 4:45 PM

(KMOV & AP) -- Dentists and other health professionals from throughout Missouri are offering free basic dental care in St. Louis to those who otherwise couldn’t afford treatments.

"We don't care where you are from. We are just here to try to make a dent in the dental needs that exist in our society," Volunteer Dentist Dr. Stuart Waite said. "We are addressing the most urgent needs first so we want to get people out of pain."

Dentists are also offering cleanings in an attempt to get the dental needs of many people met.

"A lot of people need teeth out and sometimes that's considered extra expenses in life," said Dr. Sarah Mahaffey, Found of Missouri Mission of Mercy. "A lot of people will put it (dental needs) by the wayside so they can buy groceries or pay their utilities."

According to Mahaffey, dental insurance is something many people can't afford and don't have, and with co-pays, the cost can become very high.

"We are hoping to establish a good educational base for parents," Mahaffey said. "As well as taking care of kids who might need some treatment."

The Mission of Mercy clinic takes place Friday and Saturday at Saint Louis University’s Chaifetz Arena. Doors open at 5:30 a.m. each day, with patients being seen until the clinic reaches capacity.

The Missouri Dental Association and its charitable foundation expect more than 1,000 volunteers will help treat 2,000 patients at the third annual free clinic.

Organizers cautioned that long waits were likely. Available services include teeth cleanings, fillings and extractions.

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