The sounds of drilling, the lingering aroma of tooth dust and a sense of anticipation can overwhelm a dentist office waiting room. Yet for those with limited resources for dental care, the annual Care to Share event is their one chance during the year.
“We see the people when they first go in and the anxiety is high and for others they are really cool, and we also see them when they come out, and they are so grateful, so relieved,” said Dr. Deborah Sappington, an orthodontist at Sappington Orthodontics. “I love that part of it.”
Sappington has volunteered for the annual Care to Share event hosted at Millhopper Family Dentistry since it was first launched in 2010.
On Saturday, the dentistry will provide more than $70,000 worth of free cleanings, fillings and extractions to the first 100 patients in line at 7:30 a.m. And in order to provide dental services to those 100 people, the dentistry recruits about 50 volunteers from throughout the Gainesville dental community.
A photo ID is all that is needed to receive treatment. Because some camp outside the office the night before, organizers suggest that patients arrive early, prepare for weather and bring food for the wait.
Co-owner and creator of the event Dr. Alecia McDonald at Millhopper Family Dentistry said that often the first five people in line are the same five people year after year. McDonald said the event was created because they recognized the need within the community and wanted to help.
“This is their way of accessing a regular yearly check up and cleaning and x-rays,” said McDonald. “So for them I think it’s made a big impact on them for the long run.”
Dr. Nicole Mullally, an orthodontist at Studio32 Orthodontics, will be returning for her third year to help with the event.
“It’s a well known event in town, and I always wanted to be a part of it, but the time it falls was always on the same exact weekend that I sponsor another big event. The times changed just a little bit so that I could do both,” said Mullally. “Once that weekend opened up, we jumped on it, to be a part of it.”
The Care to Share event is not the only dental care provided to those who are in need. Other places like the We Care clinics, the ACORN clinic and Gainesville Community Ministries Dental Clinic provide similar services throughout the year.
“It’s a great day, but there’s a lot of things that are done throughout the year to make sure that people in Gainesville and the surrounding areas, their dental needs can be taken care of,” said McDonald. “We have a great sense of dental community here.”