Free clinic provides dental services to thousands in need

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Most people will do anything to avoid a trip to the dentist, but that wasn't the case Friday in Cordova.

For the fifth year in a row, people lined up outside Bellevue Baptist Church and waited for hours for a massive free dental clinic.

Shekila Jones said she was getting a cavity filled. The last time she saw a dentist was a year ago, at the exact same place. It's all she can afford.

"I'm very grateful; I'm very happy," Jones said.

The Mid-South Mission of Mercy is taking care of the dental needs of nearly 2,500 uninsured or under-insured patients. They're doing everything from cleanings to oral surgery.

Last year, dentists extracted more than 2,000 teeth and provided $6 million in free care.

Addison Rueschhoff needed a lot done to his mouth.

"We are hoping to have some root canals done, fillings done and possibly some crowns," his mother said.

His mom says even with insurance, all that work was going to cost $5,000-$10,000.

"As a mom, you always want your child to feel confident, and his oral hygiene is not where it should be, so I'm excited to see him smile again," she said.

It takes lots supplies, volunteers and money, about $200,000, to make an event like this happen. Organizers said this year they are about $100,000 short.

But that hasn't stopped them from helping as many as they did last year.

More 2,000 volunteers are helping with the Mid-South Mission of Mercy. The event continues Saturday.

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