Getting your teeth cleaned or having a painful tooth problem fixed is a luxury for someone who lives at a homeless shelter.
But now, dozens of people who live at Urban Ministries in Durham have better smiles because of some dentists who volunteered their services.
The Mobile Medical Dentist Bus rolled into Urban Ministries on Friday.
“We’ve seen people that have needed extractions because they have badly broken down and painful teeth,” said James Hoke, a dentist. “Other clients have needed cleaning very badly and we’ve done some restorations as well, some fillings.
The volunteer dentists treated about 40 people.
“The challenge is to meet the need,” Hoke said. “There’s more need than there is capability today, and we hope to come back.”
Residents of Urban Ministries took full advantage of the dental care offered.
“My mouth feels better, and it makes me want to smile,” said resident Clarence Harvard.
“Why not take advantage of it, it’s free,” said Willis Brown, also a resident. “You don’t have to make no bills, don’t have to make payments, plus they’re accurate and fast, nice, gentle, and I got 3 fillings in one day and it didn’t hurt.”
Brown said without the help from the dental bus, he would’ve had to come out of pocket for the care.
“If you don’t have any insurance, you would have to pay a great deal for exactly what I got, and it would’ve been a lot of money,” he said. “So this saved me about $1,300.”
These dentists said helping to put a smile on their patients’ faces is what keeps them coming back.
“It feels real good,” Hoke said. “We all like to give back to the community, we like to help people, keep them out of pain and realize everybody can’t afford to have routine dental treatment.”