Free Dental Exams Offered Friday in Champaign
By Sean Powers
While many cannot afford dental care, people in Champaign had the chance on Friday to get free dental exams.
John Garrett, 50, waited in line Friday outside of Family Dental Care of Champaign – one of two places offering one free cleaning, filling, or tooth extraction. Garrett is unemployed and does not have dental insurance, and he said he came out to get a tooth pulled.
“I have actually three teeth that are really badly infected,” he said. “It's been a good year and a half since I’ve been able to do anything about them, and if it wasn’t for the grace of god, these people having a free thing going on today, I wouldn’t be getting this taken care of either.”
According to the non-profit dental services group, Smile Healthy, there are roughly 70,000 people in Champaign County, like Garrett, who do not have dental insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, dental care is not mandated for adults, something Champaign dental hygienist Monica Little said is a mistake.
“A lot of people would go to the dentist if they could because their smile is everything, she said. “It’s their self-esteem. It helps them get a job. It helps them in their career believe it or not. So, a lot of people would use the benefits it was out there for them.”
John Garrett said the next time he visits a dentist and is asked to pay for care, “I’m probably going to have to pass on that one.”