Hundreds line up outside North Point High School for free dental care

WALDORF, Md. (WJLA) - Cavities, fillings, and getting a couple of teeth pulled are just a few reasons why a long line started forming outside of North Point High School in Waldorf bright and early Friday morning.

North Point's gymnasium looked more like the largest dental office in the state of Maryland on Friday, as it was taken over by around 100 licensed dentists, 20 hygienists and at least 400 volunteers.

"It's the best kind of tired we've ever been," explained Carol Hall from the Southern Maryland Dental Society Mission of Mercy (DSMM). "We've helped so many."

For the next two days, North Point's gym will serve as a free adult dental clinic.

"There are a lot of people here today who have a lot of needs," said Garner Morgan with DSMM. "One of our surgeons took out seven teeth on one young lady."

It was clear the area residents who turned out for the event Friday were grateful for the free help.

"Dental insurance these days is so hard to get," said William Coffren.

The services offered at the event include cleanings, fillings, extractions and root canals.

The mission started in Virginia 15 years ago and has expanded, representatives told ABC 7 News. The goal is to treat 1,600 patients over the next two days in Waldorf.

"Some of these people come to us without a smile," Hall added. "We are able to give them that smile back, and they are so appreciative."

A wide range of people came through the gymnasium's doors early on Friday - the uninsured, the underserved, and people who have lost their jobs. Veterans and their families are also welcomed, organizers said.

"These people are really struggling," added Morgan, who said many people told them they were overwhelmed with bills for other basic family needs. "This is our chance to help them out."

DSMM holds two such events each year. The next event will be in early September at the University of Maryland.