Manny Cruz, a 40-year-old with no dental insurance or cash, had previously had an estimate of $2500 for teeth extractions, but last week he was at the head of the queue for a two-day free dental treatment event at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Four hours later he was in the oral surgery department having his teeth pulled out for free.
Turnout to such free dental events, organizers say, is a sign of the times: a tough economy, lack of dental insurance and low funding for government dental services for children. Similar Mission of Mercy events have been popping up all over the country for the last decade.
The event aimed to provide about 2000 patients with $1 million worth of free dental care, and people were queueing from about 3.00am for the gates to open.