New Facility To Provide Free Dental Care

Thousands of low income East Texas children have a new place to go for necessary dental care.  The new "St. Paul Children's Foundation Dental Clinic" opened it's doors in Tyler Monday.  Forty kids were signed up on the clinics first day, all seen free of charge.

10-year-old Lessie Reed has mixed emotions when it comes to going to the dentist.

"Kind of nervous, kind of excited."

Lessie is just one of the estimated 20,000 East Texas children in need of dental care, but without insurance.  His mother, Sloan Arline, said without facilities like the St. Paul Children's Foundation Dental Clinic, things would be tough.

"I would probably be subjected to getting the insurance on my job which is very expensive for families, to cover families, and I'd probably have to find them alternative dental care."

Her children qualify for help under the medicaid program.  But dentist David Nichols, who helped get the clinic going, said the facility is meant for everyone.

"There is always a need in every community to help those that are not, do not have the financial means to get care for their children, it's a great place for parents to bring children when they cannot afford normal care."

"In this area we treat children from many different types of families from all races, all religions there is no discrimination here and the children are treated with the same quality care that they would get in a private office," said Nichols.

For families, that commitment is appreciated.

"I am very thankful for it, even if I didn't have the means or a way of getting them proper dental care I'm glad facilities like this are available for people who can't afford it," said Arline.

For doctors, the smiles may be thanks enough.  The new clinic is open to all children who qualify under federal poverty guidelines.  25 East Texas dentists have signed up to volunteer their services.

0To find out if your child qualifies you can call the clinic at 903-526-4900.

Chris Gibson, reporting