Thankful for a day with a dentist

More than 200 people, some arriving before dawn, lined up along Glendale Avenue on Wednesday to receive root canals, fillings and other dental work during a free emergency care clinic hosted by the California Dental Group.

Vance Jordan, 59, of Glendale arrived with a toothache and said he hadn't seen a dentist in about seven years.

Shay Sanders, 30, of Los Angeles came at 2 a.m. to wait six hours for a root canal, a procedure she said wasn't available at most free clinics and well out of her budget.

“Everybody I know needs dental work, but they can't afford it,” said Mike Jeffries, 53, of Glendale, who also needed a root canal. “Dental insurance is expensive, so they let [their teeth] go until it gets critical. That's what I did.”

California Dental Group has offered at least one daylong free clinic each of the past eight years for patients who otherwise couldn't afford treatment, said Cindy Rios, a clerk at the Glendale office.

There were two dentists, four dental assistants and four front-office staffers working the clinic, she said.

Jeffries and several others in line said they had previously received care through the state's Medi-Cal program until state lawmakers cut adult dental benefits from the program in 2009 amid the state budget crisis.

About a third of adult Glendale residents cannot afford to pay for dental care and more than 55% lack dental insurance, according to a recent study by the Glendale Healthier Community Coalition.

“Medi-Cal needs to rethink their policy on preventive dental,” said 63-year-old Nick Franklin of Glendale, who suffers from cerebral palsy, is confined to a wheelchair, and needed work on his gums.

“I really appreciate the opportunity to be here today. It's a real blessing,” Franklin said.


Follow Joe Piasecki on Twitter: @JoePiasecki.


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