WALLA WALLA - By 7:45 a.m. Friday, a dozen people had lined up in front of Walla Walla Dental Care, 2014 S. Howard St., in hopes of getting a tooth pulled, a cavity filled or just an end to pain - and all for free.
"Dentistry With A Heart Day is something we are very proud of," Dr. Dan Laizure, DMD, said. "We realize the need for dental care among the uninsured in our community is overwhelming. We hope we can alleviate some of that strife with this service."
Laizure, along with Dr. Jonathan Gantz, DDS, of Basic Dental Care of Walla Walla, held their annual free dentistry day event, which is specifically designed to move at a fast pace to treat as many patients as possible
The event is not designed for children, explained hygienist Amy Bond.
"The pace of the day is always really fast, and that could traumatize a kid and give them a lifelong dental fear," Bond said.
"Children can't be rushed in this kind of setting ... The environment needs to be calm and fun for their first visit," Gantz said.
Thirty adults were treated for everything from basic fillings to root canals to full tooth extractions; children who needed free care were directed to Basic Dental Care, an in-house dental facility that accepts state coverage, Bond said.
Laizure started free dental day 25 years ago in the same location; this year was the first every adult who came in for free dentistry was treated, Bond said.
"(In the past) We've given away as little as $300 of dental work in a day and as much as $10,000. ... I expect the number to keep growing," Laizure said.
Also present was Sharryl Toews, a community health educator from Walla Walla General Hospital, who provided free blood pressure and diabetes screening.