More than 2,200 expected for free dental clinic

Taking care of patients at the 2014 Mission of Mercy dental care event in Hartford, Apr. 25, 2014. WTNH / Brian Spyros

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — They lined up early and waited for hours. Upwards of 1,200 people took advantage of a free dental clinic Friday to get their teeth checked, cleaned, get a filling or have a tooth removed.

“I thought it would be a great experience because I haven’t been to the dentist,” Terrance Roberson of East Hartford said, “so I thought it would be a great time for me to get my cleaning done.”

Roberson is one of more than 2,000 people who will be treated over the course of Friday and Saturday at the Connecticut Mission of Mercy’s free dental clinic. He echoes the very reason why people take advantage of this invaluable service.

“Insurance for one, and another thing too is just nerves,” he said.

Hundreds of people began lining up at the XL Center in Hartford Thursday night to make sure they got inside. The Jones Sisters of Hartford began camping out early in the morning.

“They said you used to be here at 12, I said no I’m going now and we got a ride and came down at 7:20,” Evelyn Jones said.

“Because I don’t have insurance, this is why I needed to come,” her sister Ethel Jones said.

During the two day event, patients will receive cleanings, fillings, extractions, x-rays and more, all free of charge. This event would not be possible if it wasn’t for the some 1,700 volunteers. In 2013 they donated $1.3 million in services.

“It’s a tremendous service,” endodontist Dr. Philip Mascia said. “You can tell these people have been in line since 11 o’clock last night, so I think it’s a tremendous service to the people in need.”

“I don’t think there is anything better than that,” Dennis Jontson of Norwalk said. “I mean, if you can get it done correctly and get it done without having to pay for it.”

Saturday’s clinic will begin at 6 a.m. It will continue until the volunteers are able to treat roughly 1,100 patients.

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