Thousands Turn Out for Free Trip to the Dentist

People without insurance can suffer chronic pain if they don't get dental issues taken care of

Saturday, May 18, 2013  |  Updated 9:22 PM PDT
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There are dozens of people who are sleeping on the streets of San Jose Friday night in hopes of getting free dental care Saturday.

There are dozens of people who are sleeping on the streets of San Jose Friday night in hopes of getting free dental care Saturday.

The lines outside the San Jose Convention Center started forming Friday morning as people began to wait their turn to get free dental care.

Once a year, people without health insurance can get free dental work in San Jose thanks to an army of some 800 dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants from across the state who give up their weekend in order to offer the free service. 

Some patients camped out overnight to make sure they got to see someone. One man said he hadn't seen a dentist in 13 years. 

By Friday night, the line was a block long as hundreds decided they would sleep on the streets in order to make sure they got the medical attention they needed.

 

Patients were seen on a first come first served basis for services ranging from basic exams and cleanings to fillings, root canals and extractions.

 

It's estimated that 30-percent of Californians don't have dental insurance.  That adds up to 11 million people. 

 

The first patients were seen at 5 a.m. Saturday.   The clinic is also open Sunday. 

The event is sponsored by the California Dental Association.

More than 2,000 people are expected to get help by the time the clinic closes on Sunday.  

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