Hundreds Flock To Lawton For Free Dental Clinic

Saturday, February 2nd 2013, 5:38 pm
By: News 9

About 2,000 Oklahomans are headed to Lawton for a chance at free dental care.

More than 1,700 volunteers provided a variety of services, including oral surgery for those who simply can't afford it. 

For the fourth year in a row, the Oklahoma Mission of Mercy and their sponsors have provided a two-day dental clinic. The goal is to create greater access to oral healthcare, and education, and for some this clinic was the only option.

"She has some large, large cavities, right at the gum line, that's why she hurts," said Pediatric Dentist, Dr. Wavel Wells.

Nicole Norman, 29, a mother of six children, her oldest only 12-years-old, struggles trying to make ends meet.

"Oh it's rough, it's rough, but I'm making it," said Norman.

And she says it's clinics like these that really help take some of the burden off making sure, not only herself, but her kids are getting the care they need. 

"It feels good, I know that their teeth are taken care of, and I know anything else that needs to be taken care of in the future, I can look out for," said Norman.

"Oklahoma has a very serious situation," said Wells. "In all the states, we are right there at the bottom."

Wells has been practicing for over 40 years and says more than a third of the Oklahoma population can't afford dental insurance.

"And if you don't have insurance, and you don't have the ability to do that, you see these stands full of people," said Wells. "We see it all. We've seen abscess teeth. We have seen dental disease so severe that the patient was coming in holding their face."

"Some people have been waiting for months and years to see a dentist," said Todd Bridges, President of the OK Dental Association. "For some people this may be their first opportunity to see a dentist."

Since the first Oklahoma Mission of Mercy in 2010, there has been 5,739 patients treated using more than $3 million in donated dental services. The 2014 dental clinic will be held in Enid, OK.

Gov. Mary Fallin was asked this week if she would reconsider her decision to reject an expansion of Medicaid in Oklahoma. The governor said that would just be too costly, and instead wants to develop another plan that she says would improve the health of the state.