Phoenix coliseum hosting thousands in need of dental work
PHOENIX — The Veterans Memorial Coliseum near downtown Phoenix will be the state’s largest dentist office for the next two days.
On Friday and Saturday, about 2,000 people without access to health care can receive the dental care they need at no charge during the Fifth Annual Dental Mission of Mercy.
“We focus on the basics,” Kevin Conroy with the Central Arizona Dental Society Foundation said. “We want to get people out of pain and eliminate the infection.”
During the event, the floor of the coliseum is lined with dental chairs and hundreds of people wait in line in the parking lot.
Theresa Mehserle said she got in line Thursday morning. She hasn’t eaten solid food in ages because of a possible infection.
“Probably since last year,” she said. “Can’t even touch the tooth. It’s so loose it would fall out.”
About $2 million worth of care will be provided during the event. Conroy said demand for the program is on the rise, especially since the Arizona Legislature ended the adult emergency dental benefit for about 500,000 people in 2010.
“As I go through the line, I recognize people from the past five years,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’ve become their dental home. That was not our intent but they look to us to provide dental care.”
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