Hundreds Expected At Free Dental Care Event

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(Host) Vermonters who lack dental insurance are expected to turn out by the hundreds Saturday for the fifth annual free Dental Care Day in Bennington, Windham and Rutland Counties.

As VPR’s Susan Keese reports, more than 40 southern Vermont dentists and oral surgeons are donating their time.

(Keese) It’s no secret that dental care is expensive. But Wilmington dentist Robert Ruhl says it’s not always the poor who go without.

Ruhl says people below a certain income level have access to Medicaid. And he says people at the higher end tend to have insurance.

(Ruhl) "But then there’s a large bulk of people in the middle and they struggle because they have family responsibilities and many tugs on their income, and trying to find the finances  for dental care sometimes gets put on the back burner completely."

(Keese) But untended dental problems can cause a lot of pain, and they can lead to broader infections and deteriorating health. Also, unsightly teeth can make it hard to find or keep good employment.

Ruhl was part of a small group of dentists who started the free dental care day in 2008. That first year, more than 80 people showed up for fillings and extractions, or to have broken teeth repaired.

The numbers have grown each year since then.

Already, 150 people have signed up for the clinic in Bennington alone. At the other clinics, patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis, although only uninsured adults will be treated.

Ruhl says he hopes in the future to expand statewide.

For VPR News, I’m Susan Keese in Manchester.

(Host) Dental services will be offered in Bennington, Brattleboro, Rutland, Manchester and Wilmington.

Dental Care Day

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