More than 500 camp out for a chance to get free dental care - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

More than 500 camp out for a chance to get free dental care

The East Texas Mission of Mercy and the volunteer dentists provide this free dental care every other year. The East Texas Mission of Mercy and the volunteer dentists provide this free dental care every other year.
The last ticket to guarantee an appointment was handed out at 5:30 a.m. The last ticket to guarantee an appointment was handed out at 5:30 a.m.
TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

More than 500 East Texans were lined up overnight Thursday in hopes of making the list to get free dental care. Screenings were held Friday morning for patients at the Bethesda Health Clinic in Tyler.

This is the most people they have screened in the past six years, and they can only serve about 400 people on Saturday. The last ticket to guarantee an appointment was handed out at 5:30 a.m.

"When I arrived at 5:40, there were over 500 people that were waiting to be seen," said Dr. David Nichols. "Many of them spent the night here and were in sleeping bags and blankets starting at six o'clock last night."

The Smith brother's traveled to Tyler from Apple Springs today and weren't able to get to Tyler in time to get a ticket, but they weren't turned away.

"They really did a good job and I'm glad that they're out; they were giving me bad pain," George Smith said.

George Smith had three teeth removed today and says he's glad other East Texans will be cared for by 30 dentists on Saturday.

"What a blessing; makes me feel good for them," Smith said.

David Nichols has been a dentist for the past 44 years, and this is the eighth year he has been able to be a part of the East Texas Mission of Mercy to help low income families who cannot afford care.

"This is an opportunity for us to make a dent. It's just a dent," Nichols said. "We have seen almost 700 patients to look at today. We will try to treat about 400 tomorrow."

Staff at the Bethesda Health Clinic says they will be making calls to the 200 people that did not get a ticket this morning. Those patients will be able to set up an appointment to come in for free care sometime this year.

The East Texas Mission of Mercy and the volunteer dentists provide this free dental care every other year.

Copyright 2014 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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