A large line started to form outside the Emancipation Park gymnasium hours before a free dental clinic opened. Before 8 a.m., the clinic had reached their capacity for the day. The staff intends to care for 500 patients on Friday.
ABC13 Eyewitness News Reporter Jeff Ehling arrived around 4 a.m. Friday, and there were already at least 100 people in line. The first person in line arrived at 11:30 p.m. Thursday. Others in line had already registered to get work done at the clinic.
Free dental clinic happening today at Emancipation Park pic.twitter.com/qthNFzwDAz— Jeff Ehling (@JeffEhlingABC13) May 17, 2019
The free dental clinic is being hosted by the Texas Dental Association Smiles Foundation, where dentists are volunteering their time and services to help those in need.
The Texas Mission of Mercy free dental clinic is one of four held each year in Texas.
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People traveled as far away as Dallas and Amarillo to take advantage of the free clinic. Those waiting outside the gymnasium told ABC13 that without insurance, it's very difficult to afford dental care, with many needing work on their dentures and tooth extractions.
One person said she needed a root canal done and said it is far too expensive without insurance.
"It is costing me like $2,000, and I cannot afford that at all. So this is really helping me out. And other people here I've been talking to them and they are doing extractions as well, dentures and all that kind of stuff. Crowns, root canals...that's a lot of money," Elizabeth Cuber said.
The clinic will be open again Saturday and is available for adults and children 8 years and older.
Staff recommend that people start lining up by 5 a.m. After they reach 500 patients, the clinic will close the line.