Mission Of Mercy: Giving East Texans Something To Smile About - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/12/08- East Texas

Mission Of Mercy: Giving East Texans Something To Smile About

A great need is being met in our community.  More than 800 people are receiving free dental and medical care.  It's all due to sponsorship from area churches and organizations, as well as, hundreds of East Texas volunteers.  It's giving so many something to smile about.

Patients lined-up bright and early Saturday, waiting to be screened by more than 60 volunteer dentists, plus hygienists and even pre-dental college students coming in from other cities.

"We can't do it often because it takes a lot out of us," said East Texas Mission of Mercy Chair Dr. David Nichols.  "We have to gear-up for months doing it.  The dentists work hard.  The dentists are using several thousand dollars of their own materials free."  A massive outpouring from our community that's helping hundreds of East Texans who simply cannot afford health care.

"A lot of these people don't even have the means to pay $5 for something done," said Tyler Oral and Facial Surgery Jayson Terres, DDS, MD.

"I thank God I really do," said dental patient Robin Armstrong.  "Everybody else thanks Him too because we don't have money to take care of ourselves.  With things going up it's hard to get your teeth or anything done, so we thank this program very much."  Volunteers say they feel the reward in return.

"It's a great feeling that you really can't get in an office because these people are so appreciative," said dental assistant Christian Croft.

"There are thousands of people in Smith County who have painful, decayed and missing teeth," said Nichols.  "Many times it keeps them from getting jobs."   While the health conditions are serious, the air Saturday was filled with nothing, but excitement.  Some other health care needs were treated on the spot, Saturday.  All of this equals about $300,000 worth of free care, leaving nothing, but smiles.

The dental care patients will be treated next Saturday at several clinics around Tyler and Lindale.  The patients are qualified through agencies like PATH, The Salvation Army and The Public Health District.

Courtney Lane, Reporting  clane@kltv.com

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