STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – Folks from all over lined up, some overnight, for a weekend of free dental care in Stillwater.
At the Payne County Expo Center, there were 120 chairs, along with dentists, offering the free service – no questions about income or I.D. asked.
It’s a mission that runs the morning of Friday, January 7 through Saturday, January 8.
It’s two days of brightening smiles and outlooks on life.
Many folks drove in from hours away.
“Man, we got up at 4:30 this morning in Drumright, drove here to Stillwater,” said Ernest Kane.
Some stayed overnight.
“I’ve never camped outside a fair barn before,” said Linda Jo Meyer of Woodward.
“Think about how desperate someone is for dentistry to spend the night sleeping on this concrete floor,” said John Gladden, President and CEO of Delta Dental of Oklahoma.
Thousands of adults and children waited in line at the Payne County Expo Center for dental help.
“It’s going to be all day but it’s so going to be worth it,” said Lauren Kane.
More than 2,000 volunteers stepped up to help with the Oklahoma Mission of Mercy – a collaboration of the Oklahoma Dental Association, Oklahoma Dental Foundation and Delta Dental of Oklahoma.
Representatives estimate about half the state’s population does not have dental insurance, so this is key to the pocketbooks of many.
“We are the average hardworking Americans,” said Amy Migliavacca. “We both work two hard jobs.”
Migliavacca and her husband drove four hours from Mangum.
To her, these services are life-changing.
“When I lost this tooth, it took a piece of my heart away,” she said.
Dentists at the Mission of Mercy have what she needs.
“‘Flippers, which are basically replacement teeth along the smile line,” Gladden said.
That’s one service they provide, along with cleanings, fillings, some root canals, and extractions.
Removing, fixing or just cleaning smiles in need for free is a true mission of mercy – in hopes of spreading joy.
“They’ll smile, the person they’re smiling at will smile, and the ripple effect will just keep going,” said Dr. Mark Hanstein.
“These people don’t judge us, they smile genuinely and that’s what gets my heart,” Migliavacca said.
Treatment begins again Saturday at 6 a.m. Patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Payne County Expo Center is located at 4518 Expo Cir. E, Stillwater, OK, 74075.
This isn’t the first Mission of Mercy and likely will not be the last so stay tuned to their website for updates.