Dentist offers free grins

People rarely are in a hurry to get to their dentist’s office, but at 7:30 a.m. Monday staffers for Dr. Kamran Sahabi found half a dozen people waiting at the entrance to the Glendale Dental Center on South Glendale Avenue.

Sahabi and Dr. Farid Tebyani were offering free emergency dental care Monday, part of a growing annual effort to serve those who don’t have the money to go to the dentist.

“As a health-care professional, you see an amazing number of people who need treatment and can’t afford it,” Sahabi said. “We come across this every day.”

Sahabi’s patients on Monday included seniors, such as Dennis Miller of Glendale, and others who heard about the offer via e-mails, postings and word-of-mouth.

Heather Cuizon of Temple City said a dental assistant told her about it last week at an In-N-Out Burger restaurant. At first she didn’t believe it, but then she said, “Where?”

A domestic violence and substance abuse counselor who said she lost her job with the court system in July, Cuizon has a condition that increases her risk of serious medical problems with any infection.

“If my teeth get bad, it could cost me my life,” Cuizon said as she waited in the lobby Monday.

This is the fifth year that Sahabi and his colleagues have offered free care in honor of Dental Health Month.

Sahabi has been moving around among his five offices, from Whittier to North Hollywood, to offer the free treatment. On Sunday, Sahabi was in Eagle Rock where he said he was “overwhelmed” as 75 patients came in.

Normally, he said, he sees between 10 and 15 patients a day.

Sahabi, who has been practicing in Glendale since 1994, said the cost of the giveaway in staff time and supplies is “not really important.”

What is important, he said, is that people understand the two main problems in dental care — tooth decay and gum disease — and that they are both preventable with good hygiene and regular visits to the dentist.

On Sunday, Sahabi said, he filled a tooth for a woman in her 20s whose smile was being undone by tooth decay.

“If she had not gotten that treatment, in a couple of months she would be in pain, needing a root canal that would have cost 10 times more,” he said.

Ten times more, that is, than it would have cost on any other day but Monday.

This year Sahabi upped the schedule from two days of free emergency dental care to 10. Several remain on his schedule: Wednesday and Sunday at 14322 Telegraph Road, Whittier; Sunday, at 3465 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale; March 6 at 10400 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; March 14 at 609 S. Glendale Ave.

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