MEDFORD, Ore. — Dentists and community volunteers are transforming the upper gymnasium at Central Medford High School into a dental clinic. On Friday, dentists who normally see 15 to 20 patients a day, will serve at least 800 people for free.
The event starts at 4:30 a.m. Friday morning and people are already holding a spot in line. One woman NewsWatch12 spoke with on Thursday plans to camp out on the sidewalk to get dental work done. Peggy Grimler doesn’t have enough money to pay for dental work so she spends what she does have: time.
“We got up at 5:30 in the morning; got in the car at 6; filled up with gas; drove 136 miles. We stopped to get some sandwiches, bought a tent and we’re going to wait out here…for free teeth,” Grimler described. She and her boyfriend will spend the night on the sidewalk in a tent to save money.
“People wait in line for big screen TV’s, people wait in line for concert tickets, they wait in line to set up their hunting camps to save them some money,” Grimler said. Grimler will be one of the first 800 people served for free on Friday.
“The clinic is a full service clinic so we have hygiene, restorative, endodontics, which are root canals,” explained Dr. Jim Catt, the event leader.
More than 100 dentists guarantee one procedure to each person in line.
“The only credential there is really is that they are medically stable,” said Dr. Catt. “We don’t check IDs. It’s for the insured, uninsured, you know whoever needs help.”
Last year, Grimler went to a similar event held in Portland. It made such a difference in her life, which is why she’s back for more in Medford.
“They pulled those teeth and gave me this item, a free partial; it’s only supposed to be a temporary partial, but now, I have a smile. I have pride and dignity back. I can smile and talk to people and it makes all the difference in the world,” Grimler said.
It’s no secret that dental care is expensive. One dentist tells NewsWatch12 it’s about $400 to get one tooth pulled and about $600 for a routine root canal.