During hard economic times, many people have gone without such benefits as health and dental insurance, making it difficult to receive the proper care they need.
On Saturday, the Aspen Dental office on Dawsonville Highway in Gainesville opened its doors for patients to receive free dental care and oral health education as part of its first-ever “Day of Service.”
Along with Oral Health America, Saturday’s service day was the official kickoff for the “Healthy Mouth Movement.”
The Gainesville office was one of seven locations throughout the state participating, and Georgia is one of 27 states taking part in the movement, said Samantha Porter, office manager of the Gainesville location.
“I think this is a very exciting time for our company because we have started this initiative to be able to give patients and people the care that they need,” she said.
She said not only were patients being looked at in the office, but they distributed a “mobile mouth” unit to drive around to different locations and see patients.
“We try to do whatever is needed that is the most important, like, if they (patient) are in pain, we want to get them out of pain. That’s the most important thing. If they need a filling, an extraction, a cleaning, those are the types of services we offered (Saturday),” she said.
All workers volunteered their time Saturday, she added.
“The doctor decided what treatment the patients needed (after seeing them first) and then, they instantly moved into whatever treatment they needed and started the procedure,” she said.
“The patients are very excited to be able to get their treatment. Tooth pain is the worst pain in the world and everyone we have seen so far is very thankful. They have a smile on their face as they walk out the door.
“We give them other options and other ways to continue getting their care, like different tools and stuff,” she said. “We are giving them a handout that gives them different numbers to be able call so they can get different services for them that are statewide and the community governments offer that they might not be aware of.”
Patient Timothy Hutley of Buford said he saw a story about the service day on the TV news.
“The experience I have had so far has been pleasant. The staff that I spoke with when I called to find out about their services, were friendly,” he said as he filled out his paperwork in the waiting room.
“This (service day) tells me that they care about people. To be honest with you, it’s not all about the money. The company I used to be employed by, we always had different things we would give back to. I feel like when you give back to the community, when they offer services like this to people that have lost a job, displaced workers, it helps out a lot. It really does.”
He said he was “very grateful” for the help he received.
“We tried to see as many patients as possible (Saturday) who needed the urgent treatment,” Dr. Chintan Parekh said. “It has been wonderful. I’m originally from India and I have done this for years there and I’m doing this for the first time with this company (Aspen Dental) and this is a wonderful experience because some patients don’t have insurance and they need to find a dentist and they need some treatment.
“That’s why we’re serving our patients with this treatment ... It’s helping the people. If the patients can’t afford (to come to the dentist), they go to the emergency room for the pain on weekends and it’s very hard to find a doctor on the weekends to fix their pain.
“To have free treatment for them, it’s very nice.”