People wait in line for hours for free dental work - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

People wait in line for hours for free dental work

ONALASKA, WI (WXOW)—Valley Dental in Onalaska opened its doors Friday to provide free services to adults with no dental insurance.

 They're one of about 300 dental offices around the country participating in Dentistry from the Heart.

Patients could choose from a free cleaning, extraction or filling on Friday.

Standing outside since 6 a.m., waiting patiently for his number to be called, it's four hours until Michael Sloan is called inside.

"It's pretty cool," Sloan said. "There are not too many places you can come for people that are a little disadvantaged and get dental care."

The former Fluid Maintenance Technician has been unemployed since 2009, leaving him without dental insurance.

"How long has it been since you've had your teeth cleaned then?" Michelle, hygienist asked.

"Probably 5 years, I don't know. It's been a while," Michael said.

Michael is not the only one.  Dr. Mike Gavin, Valley Dental Owner, said there's an overwhelming need in our community.

"There's no question there's a need for all kinds of dental care," Gavin said. "But some of it is very important. Taking care of some things people can't get access to, to take care of those needs."

But the hygienists and dentist aren't just taking care of needs.

"Look at that, you even get to watch TV today," Michelle said.

They're treating patients like kings, even letting them hold the remote control during the appointment.

Dr. Gavin said helping transform peoples self esteem is very rewarding.

"It's not just the way they look," Dr. Gavin said. "it has to do with their health, healthy mouth, healthy body. If you have an infection in your mouth its going to impact everything in your entire body."

Michael hopes his new sparkling smile will help him land his next job.

"First impressions are a lot when it comes to interviewing and getting a job so hopefully getting my teeth cleaned will be one more thing that goes toward the positive of finding a job," Michael said.

Friday's clinic was open on a first come first served basis until 5 p.m. But Dr. Gavin said they're going to do something for everyone who put in the effort to come out and wait in line, even if it's a different day.

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