published Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Free dental care offered in LaFayette

Dentists and assistants tend to patients in the Baptist Mobile Health Ministry's mobile dental unit.
Dentists and assistants tend to patients in the Baptist Mobile Health Ministry's mobile dental unit.
Photo by Contributed Photo.

IF YOU GO

Dental screenings will be offered Thursday from 2 to 5 p.m. Procedures will be scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call Second Baptist Church at 706-638-2732.

People whose financial problems have caused them to neglect their teeth can get free dental care this week in LaFayette, Ga.

On Thursday afternoon, uninsured people 10 and older can have their teeth inspected by local dentists who'll be volunteering at the Baptist Mobile Health Ministry's mobile dental unit.

It's a 40-foot-long recreational vehicle equipped with three dental chairs, X-ray machines and other medical equipment that will be parked for three days at Second Baptist Church, 500 W. Main St.

Patients will return Friday and Saturday to the clinic to get their teeth cleaned, cavities filled and, in many cases, decayed teeth extracted.

"At least one-half to two-thirds of the people have to have extractions," said Diana Brown, a registered nurse with the Duluth, Ga.-based mobile ministry. "Because they've put it off. They haven't had the money to get fillings done."

The mobile dental clinic traveled 7,806 miles around Georgia in 2011, stopped at 34 locations and performed 6,031 treatments on 4,440 people last year, according to its brochure. The ministry has been around since 1995, Brown said. It first traveled in a Bluebird bus until that caught fire on Interstate 75, then used a fifth-wheel trailer and in 2007 got its current self-contained RV.

"It's built from ground up to be a dental unit," Brown said of the $320,000 vehicle.

This will be the dental clinic's fifth year at Second Baptist Church.

"We generally see between 100 and 150 patients," said church member Amy Green, who coordinates the dental clinic's visit. "The biggest demand is usually extractions and then fillings."

Patients don't need to be Baptists or of any religious faith.

"It has nothing to do with if they're a member of the church," Brown said. However, the event does include evangelistic outreach, she said.

The following local dentists are participating: Ken Pilgrim, Flintstone, Ga.; Larry Calloway, Fort Oglethorpe; and four dentists from LaFayette: Michael McCary, Walter Levie, Peggy Emberson and George Mason. Participating dental assistants are Karen Castleberry, Ashley Hughes, Carlie Collins, Laura Roberson and Wendy Withrow. Two dental hygienists are volunteering: Sarah Jenkins and Lisa Calloway.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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