Early this month 235 patients were given a free trip to the dentist in New River Valley.
The dental care day was a first for the organizers, who focused their efforts on meeting the dental needs of low income adults living in Radford and the counties of Floyd, Giles, Montgomery and Pulaski.
The result was 107 cleanings, 164 fillings, 144 surgical extractions and 123 simple extractions, according to preliminary data shared this week.
It took 29 dentists, 29 dental assistants, 28 hygienists, more than 34 dental office assistants, and 16 additional volunteers to pull off the care day.
Dental Aid Partners of the New River Valley, an organization that formed about three years ago, led the effort to establish the care day. The group worked with the Free Clinic of the New River Valley to identify patients in need.
The group had watched as similar efforts to meet the ongoing dental needs of adults in Southwest Virginia were tackled through massive clinics, like the annual Mission of Mercy program held in Roanoke and the Remote Area Medical held in Wise.
But Joe Thompson, president of the dental aid group, said that by using the existing offices of dentists, the New River effort was able to avoid the logistics of organizing a clinic event requiring a large centralized space. Instead, the pre-screened patients fanned out for appointments at offices around the New River Valley on Sept. 14.
Thompson added it also saved money because the organizers didn’t have to seek grants or charitable contributions for a space to house the event.
Plans are already being formed to hold a second dental care day next year, Thompson said.