The Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation will have its annual Free Dental Clinic Jan. 27 and 28 at the National Guard Armory in Manhattan. For the fourth year, Sister Loretta Jasper will be there to offer assistance and comfort.

Jasper, who is the project manager for the new Neighbor to Neighbor program housed on Cedar Street, says she is trying to get the word out in Abilene about the free clinic.

“Dental health is so important for the overall wellbeing of one’s physical and mental health,” she said. “It is a bigger deal than ‘if I don’t have mouth pain, I won’t be grouchy.’ The health of the mouth to the overall body is very significant.”

One of the goals of Neighbor to Neighbor on Cedar Street is to help women find resources for themselves and their families to improve their lives. 

With so many people not having dental insurance, this annual event can make tremendous changes in people’s lives and wellbeing.

The two-day event is staffed by volunteers who will treat an array of dental issues, including cleanings, filling and extractions.

As a non-clinical volunteer, Jasper has helped with directing people from one station to another, sat with people who were scared, greeted those coming in, setting up prior to opening and letting people squeeze her hand as a dentist worked on their mouth.

“It is interesting how different people responded to getting that shot into their gums. It was such a fascination — here are these highly tattooed people and rough and tumble folks who could hardly stand the thought of getting a shot,” she said. 

Spending a half-day helping with the clinic is time well spent. She said she knows she is quite fortunate to be able to go to a dentist whenever the need arises, but so many people can’t.

“I want to be available to help do my part to those who are not as fortunate,” she said. “I figure a half a day on the timeline of life is not that much.”

Doors open each day at 5:30 a.m. and people are seen on a first-come, first-served basis. As hundreds of people generally show up for both days, she recommends people plan on getting in line as early as they can.

“Plan to go early, plan to wait a long time, plan to be patient,” she said. 

For those who go:

The Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation released the following information for people who plan on attending the event:

• Continue taking any prescription medication as directed and bring it along so a dose is not missed should the patient have to wait a good portion of the day.

• The patient will need to fill out a brief health history, so bring a list of allergies, prescriptions, etc. to have this information available.

• Patients do not need to bring dental records or proof of income.

• Services are first come, first served and all patients must be able to wait in line — no appointments.

• The clinic opens at 5:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27 and 28, and waiting in line or determining how early to get in line is up to the patient.

• Only as many patients as can be treated that day (about 800) will be admitted and then the doors will be closed. Standing in line on Friday and not getting in does not give the patient priority the next day. It is the same process on Saturday — first come, first served.

• Be prepared to wait and potentially be there all day. About 800 patients are admitted to the clinic, so it may be mid-afternoon before a patient is treated.

• Biscuits and gravy will be provided for breakfast and a sandwich will be served for lunch for all patients at no charge. Bring snacks and water.

• After a medical screening, the patient will be examined by a dentist at KMOM and the patient’s greatest need will be treated. For example, if a patient needs extractions and fillings, the greatest need (probably the extractions) will be treated at KMOM. The patient does have the option to come back the next day to get the fillings, but they must wait in line again like everybody else. No line priority is given.

• Services provided include cleanings, fillings,and extractions. No dentures will be provided at KMOM.

• Full mouth extractions will be done if determined necessary by the examining dentist. The patient will be able to discuss treatment/procedure options with the dentist prior to care.

• After treatment, patients will be provided a phone number to call for follow up emergency care if they experience any problems regarding the treatment received at KMOM.

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