Free dental care at the Convocation Center

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)-Need a cavity filled? Then the ASU Convocation Center was the place to be today! More than 11-hundred people filed into the arena for free dental care.

Fred Allen Motes is typical of the patients being seen at the ARMom dental clinic.

Motes, "They are going to pull all my uppers got all of them supposed to be pulled so they gonna do a little surgery on me and I just thank God they are out here doing this for everybody." Motes said he was surprised at how many people turned out for the event.

"Got here at 4 o'clock this morning but it's worth the wait for me." Motes said. " I have no complaints about it in the world. What I think they are doing out here is great."

Those seeking treatment started lining up well before the doors opened at 6 A-M. Once inside it was a very orderly process with pre-screenings, x-rays and numbing before seeing a dentist. Dr. Patti Mullins from Newport says she was prepared for anything.

"Amalgams, composites, fillings, some extractions. Whatever they bring us we'll be doing.>" said Mullins who was getting ready for her third patient of the day.

They've been doing this for seven years, with the clinic making stops at various places around the state. The whole thing is organized by the Arkansas State Dental Association and funded by donations from sponsors.

179 dentists volunteered their time and literally hundreds of technicians and over a thousand  volunteers staff the event.

Susan Long a Dental Hygienist from UAMS brought along 27 students from the hygiene program. Long says this gives her students a chance to really understand the needs of dental care.

Long, "A lot of us are very fortunate to receive dental care on a regular basis but sometimes we take that for granted so it's a learning opportunity."

Event coordinator Dr. Terry Fiddler said each time they do this around the state, people really have a hard time believing that it's free. Fiddler says there are 3 requirements for treatment.

Fiddler, "Be able to walk through or be pushed through the door and have teeth, that's it. That's all the requirements there are and it's not going to cost you a penny."@Fiddler says the event here in Jonesboro has the potential to be record-breaking.

"We have dentists literally working around the clock getting this thing done. So we will probably see 1100 patients today. If we see 1100 patients today and tomorrow it will be the biggest event held here in Arkansas." Fiddler said.

And it was, they had to close the doors at 10 am to insure that all patients were seen. Numbers actually were 1104. Dr. Fiddler says that was the most people ever seen in one day at an event in the state.

The doors open at 6 on Saturday but it is recommended that if you need major procedures done you need to be their well before the doors open.

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