Poor Americans struggle to afford dental care

    8:10 PM, May 19, 2011   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- The need for free or affordable dental care in Arkansas and across the country is growing for those in need.

    Volunteers are prepping for two days of non-stop dental procedures. Beginning Friday, hundreds of dental healthcare professionals will ban together at the Statehouse Convention Center, providing close to a million dollars in free dental care.

    Arkansas Mission of Mercy Chairperson, Dr. Terry Fiddler says they'll provide a variety of dental care. "We will do fillings, restorations. We'll be doing extractions, pulling teeth and cleaning teeth."

    This will be the fifth year for the Mission of Mercy clinic here in Arkansas and Fiddler expects thousands to line up for free dental care.

    "In this economy, in this world there's just a need with the way insurance is and everything. So many folks who are having economic problems they need events like this."

    For Mark Mink the clinic came at the perfect time. "This is really my only option. I'm on disability and they want a little over $600 to get these teeth pulled and I just can't afford that."

    Mink of Bismarck was the first dental patient to arrive Thursday morning. He plans to stay overnight to secure his spot in a dental chair.

    "I just want to get these teeth pulled. They're not hurting, but every now and then they give me a little pain. I know if I don't get it taken care of they are going to start hurting and it's going to cost more money."

    With Medicare not covering denistry. Mission of Mercy Chairman  Fiddler says there's not a lot of options for the uninsured.

    "We have ARKids that helps on some and we have the adult Medicaid, but it's not near enough. Being a rural state, being so spread out there's very few dentist per population capita, so that's what happens."

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