Free dental clinic on its way

jzou@heraldonline.comApril 22, 2014 

The South Carolina Dental Association will be offering free, comprehensive dental care – including no-cost oral surgery and X-rays – at First Baptist Church in Rock Hill this August.

Dale Dove of the local nonprofit Renew Our Community and Rock Hill dentist Dr. Paul Coombs presented the upcoming “Dental Access Days” program during a York County Council meeting Monday night.

“When a person looks at you, they want to see your smile,” said Dove, who is working with the state dental association to bring the free program to Rock Hill.

The program has typically drawn hundreds of participants throughout the state when it has been held in Charleston, Greenville and other cities.

Dove called the upcoming clinic, which will include its own X-ray truck, the “biggest single event York County” will have seen thus far.

More details about the event will be provided closer to the date, but organizers plan to make a specific push to those living in York, Lancaster and Chester counties.

Dove said organizers are seeking at least 500 non-dental volunteers to assist dozens of dentists and medical staff with logistics. Dental staff members will provide comprehensive, no-cost care to anyone who shows up.

All health care work is not compensated and is on a volunteer basis. Dove mentioned that it’s not uncommon for state residents to drive hours to attend one of the programs.

Procedures include oral surgery such as root canals and wisdom teeth removal and more severe conditions that require teeth to be artificially made using plastics.

Coombs, who has volunteered in four previous Dental Access Days as a health care provider, said he expects the turnout to be high based on previous experiences.

“You have people line up at 5 a.m. looking like they’re going to a sporting event,” said Coombs. Instead, he said, they’re seeking dental care – the last thing on the minds of some people.

Dove said organizers are seeking help from the city and county to manage what’s expected to be a “mammoth” event that will require police and traffic help, as well as additional power to supply dental equipment.

Jie Jenny Zou •  803-329-4062

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