Low-Cost Dental Care For Working Adults

Julia Careno is a working mother of four. She's been living with the pain of tooth decay for the past six months. She doesn't have insurance and she can't afford dental work that would normally cost more than $100.

But today, Dr. David Nichols is giving Julia the same care for only $20.

"If I can save it, I will. I'll try to, ok?" Nichols said, looking at her abscessed tooth.

He and two other local dentists started the low-cost program to respond to one of the biggest health care problems in East Texas.

"They have only the help that we provide or they take their own teeth out or they just live with painful, abscessed teeth," he said.

Nichols is taking time away from his own clinic to volunteer.

"Ok, we can save this tooth," he said, bringing a smile to Julia's face.

A filling takes care of her problem.

"I'm very happy they could help me," she said in Spanish. "There are many more people like me that need help."

Like Minerva Garcia, a single mother of two, whose tooth decay has kept her up at night.

"Does it hurt here?" Nichols asked her in Spanish. "No problem."

Right now, the dentists are seeing patients only on Friday mornings. But they're working on recruiting more dental volunteers so they can expand the program later this year.

"Now, thanks to God and Dr. Nichols, I feel great," Minerva said.

And now she'll be able to smile pain-free.

To qualify for the low-cost dental care, you must be a patient at the Bethesda Clinic and meet certain requirements. Right now, there are eight dentists volunteering their services. The clinic is looking for several more dentists and a dental hygienist, who may be able to receive wages, too.

Julie Tam, reporting.