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Thousands in need receive free dental care at Phoenix event

PHOENIX — Thousands of people in need received free dental care at the Arizona State Fairgrounds on Friday and more will do so on Saturday.

More than 1,500 hundred volunteers took the time to provide care to about 1,000 people on Friday who showed up at the Dental Mission of Mercy event. Another 1,000 are expected Saturday.

Kevin Earle, executive director of the Arizona Dental Association, which helps put on the event, said many of the people that come cannot afford to regularly see dentists.

“Fifty-two percent of the people seen were under $17,000 of family income,” he said. “These are folks that are basically desperately poor.”

Volunteers are performing a comprehensive array of services from X-rays and dentures, to cleaning and hygiene education.

Earle said this is the third time the event has been held and it helps those who can’t afford the care, especially since dental was dropped from Arizona’s Health Care Cost Containment System three years ago.

“This is a critical part of our advocacy to make sure that the legislature understands the extent of the problem that’s out here, and how we can be more efficient with our state resources and get these folks to a dentist where they can be adequately treated,” he said.

The event will run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

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