Clinic in Cedar Rapids Opens Free Dental Care Facility

By Jillian Petrus, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Doctors say dental care is always last on the to-do list for the uninsured or under-insured.

In 2010, 1,400 people showed up at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids for a weekend of free dental care.

Volunteer dentists performed cleanings, fillings and tooth extractions.

Doctors say the event brought to light a desperate need in our own community for more free dental clinics. His Hands Free Medical Clinic already provided medical and chiropractic services. Now it is the second free health clinic in Cedar Rapids offering no cost dental service to uninsured or under-insured adults.

His Hands started taking patients at their new facility 400 12th St. SE in February. They already have 120 people on a waiting list. 30 of those patients say they're in severe pain, because they simply can't afford a regular dental check-up.

"There are people that are working, but not making enough to barely get by," said Dr. DDS. Jeffrey Akey. "For them to get dental work is really impossible."

Minor toothaches can quickly turn into major health problems leading to serious infection.

"They are calling us so thankful they can even be put on a waiting list, because they have no other option," said Michelle Retter, Dental Coordinator for His Hands.

Retter says most of their clients are low-income working adults who can't afford dental insurance or their co-payment is so high it's unaffordable. Their patients have gone so long without a regular check-up they need teeth pulled or cavities filled.

"We want to take care of the pain first, that's the first priority," said Akey.

The physicians clinic of Iowa provided the 100,000 dollar donation to open the new free facility. DPL dental lab does all the lab work for free and several oral surgeons have offered to do free procedures at their offices.

"You don't have to go do mission work some other country," says Akey, "right here in our community, in any community, there's a great need for dental work."

The His Hands clinic also has a need for volunteer dental hygienists and dental assistants, even those who are retired or planning to retire. They're looking for those willing to volunteer 3 to 4 hours a month.

If you're interested, contact His Hands at (319) 862-2636
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