Local/State

Local dentists provide free 'Dentistry from the Heart'

Saturday, September 22, 2012

It was a day of free dental care for the residents of Berks County and surrounding areas.

Dozens of people lined up to see volunteer dentists in Kutztown for procedures they couldn't otherwise afford.

Some of the people in this waiting room camped out for hours before the dental office opened, each had a choice of a cleaning, filling or extraction.

"I had a patient who said she stayed in her car since about 2:30 a.m.; she parked in the parking lot," said Dr. Matthew Keller.

Some of those needing teeth removed came the earliest and waited the longest

.

Jonnie Ojedis and her husband drove 50 miles from Bangor, Pennsylvania and waited more than 5 hours.

Dr. William Messersmith partnered with the non-profit organization Dentistry from the Heart to provide the services.

He and 8 other volunteer dentists, along with six volunteer hygienists, treated 99 people by noon on Friday.

"Indicative of the need, and certainly there is a great need in the community and the country at large," said Dr. Messersmith.

"I think all of us were expecting a long line given the state of the economy," said Dr. Lorri Tomko. "It's sad to a certain degree, but at the same time, it feels good to help."

Initially the volunteers were planning accept the first 100 people, but that happened before 1:00 p.m. when Sherrie Leibensperger came to register. She was number 100.

"I have no dental insurance, so this is a blessing," said Sherrie.

Likewise for Steven Smith, who came at 6:30 a.m. and was in line twice.

"I had two chipped teeth. They fixed the first one, and I am going through again for the second one," he said.

Students from Kutztown University donated their time along with some of Dr. Messersmith's patients.

"There are a lot of people that, unfortunately can't afford dental insurance. I think this is really cool," said Ian Tobia.

Dentistry from the Heart was founded by a doctor in Florida about 10 years ago.

This was the first one in Kutztown, but doctors expect it to become an annual event.

(Copyright ©2014 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
berks county, pennsylvania, local/state, lisa thomas-laury
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