Free Dentistry Day gives relief to 40 adults in need
Dwayne Toney had been suffering with a bad tooth for a long time when his mother-in-law heard on the morning news about Free Dentistry Day at Palm Beach State College’s Lake Worth campus.
“My wife and I came straight down,” said Toney after he received treatment at yesterday’s event. “I had the tooth taken out of my mouth, and they did a wonderful job for me. I’m so happy right now. A dentist was going to charge me $300 to pull one tooth out, and I didn’t have the money for that.”
The second annual Free Dentistry Day on April 27 brought relief to 40 low-income adults who had put off dental treatment due to the cost. Dentists affiliated with Atlantic Coast Dental Research Clinic, aided by Palm Beach State Dental Health students, started seeing patients at 8 a.m., but people were in line as early as 4:30 a.m. for the free first-come, first-served treatment. The day didn’t end until 6 p.m.
“This was a group effort,” said Colleen Bradshaw, associate professor and chair of PBSC’s Dental Assisting program and coordinator of the event. “The doctors gave up time in their private practice to come here and volunteer, the students are very excited and they’re learning, and the patients are very appreciative. Even the chairperson of our advisory council, Sharon Masiarczyk of Benco Dental, supplied lunch. It was a win-win for everyone.”
Their efforts focused on getting people out of pain, not general check-ups. PBSC students aided 15 dentists in performing 32 extractions, 33 fillings, and one pulpotomy, which is the first step in root canal treatment. Six Dental Hygiene students took patients’ vital signs, and 18 Dental Assisting students took over from there, obtaining each patient’s medical history, doing dental x-rays and assisting the dentists at chairside.
Shelby Pelz, who graduates from the Dental Assisting program in August, got a lot out of the day. “Every patient had something different, and most of us got to assist in different procedures and see something that maybe we haven’t seen before.”
Happy to finally get treatment for a worsening toothache, patient Robin Remillard was impressed. “Everybody’s been very sweet and nice, and the place is very clean and everybody seems to be very knowledgeable. I’ve been blessed with today.”
Errol McCord Jr. agreed, citing the high cost of dental care when paying out of pocket. “Fortunately I’m in the right place because I do have problems with my teeth and this will help me a great deal. I’m very grateful.”
Dr. Carlos Boudet, board member of ACDRC, recruited the volunteer dentists, but like Bradshaw, he gives credit to the entire team.
“I think it was a very successful day and it wouldn’t have been possible without the Dental Assisting program and the volunteer dentists that participated. We treated a number of patients who had some severe problems. The students were great, the doctors were fantastic. It was really a tremendous day. A big thanks goes to all of them.”