MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Thousands of people showed up to receive free dental care at Bellevue Baptist Church on Friday.
The Mid-South Mission of Mercy provided free dental services to under-served people living in Memphis and the Mid-South. Their goal was to treat 2,500 patients and provide more than $1.5 million worth of free dental care.
Starting around 2 p.m. Thursday, people started to line up at Bellevue Baptist Church in hopes of getting badly needed free dental care they likely could not afford any other way.
"I haven't been to a dentist in two or three years, so I just want to make sure nothing is wrong," Shylan Thornton said.
Shylan Thornton and her husband David waited in the long line. Because of a lack of insurance, neither has gotten their teeth worked on in several years. Without Friday's service, David would not have had a way to fix his aching tooth.
"Probably not without having the free clinic type idea," David Thornton said.
Dr. Mitchel Godat is one of the many dentists who took time out of their busy schedules to provide dental work to many. To see the smiles on those patients' faces is something that will stick with him forever.
"Some people came in with broken off front teeth, and we were able to fix those," Godat stated. "They can smile again. What a great thing to get people to smile again!"
The dentists performed extractions, fillings, and cleanings for parents and their kids.
Godat said because of the huge need he saw, he wants to make this an annual event. This is so that people like Darius Smith can have the smile they've always wanted but up until now could not afford.
"For everybody and myself I think it means a lot because my dental insurance expired January 31," Darius Smith said.
The inaugural event will continue February 27 at Bellevue Baptist Church, starting at 6 a.m.