Dental clinic to provide free care

GRAND ISLAND, Neb.- Fifty percent of people in the United States never see a dentist. For some, it's lack of funds that keep them away. That's why a free dental clinic coming to central Nebraska expects to be busy.

A 100-chair mobile dental clinic will fill the Pinnacle Bank Expo Center at Fonner Park April 7 and 8, thanks to the Nebraska Mission of Mercy. One volunteer dentist says at a previous clinic, he helped an adult ranch hand with major tooth decay.

"After we fixed his front teeth so he had a great smile, he broke down crying,” said Dr. John Ahlschwede. “He said, 'I can now date, I can go out in public. I can go to my church of choice and I can talk to people’."

Ahlschwede says attending the clinic can indeed be life changing.

"We can change lives. We can take somebody that has a minimum wage job hire able at a higher level,” said Ahlshwede. “We can change their social life so they can have a social life where they couldn't before. And we change their self-esteem."

One major supporter of the event is the CHI Saint Francis Healthcare Foundation. They know their 50-thousand-dollar donation given today even helps them in the long run, according to foundation director Clair Aguilar.

"We see a lot of people that present themselves in our E.D. - our emergency department - that are there because they have a severe infection and they need some help,” said Aguilar. “They haven't taken care of their teeth, so they come in when it's really gone far and above where it should have been."

Anyone can attend the clinic to be helped on a first come, first served basis. All major dental procedures will be available.