Bozeman dentist offers free dental care
MISSOULA, Mont. - Some people in Bozeman are smiling a little brighter, thanks to a local dentist's office that gave away more than $10,000 worth of free dental care.
It's part of a national nonprofit organization called Dentistry From the Heart, which organizes events across the country that gives free dentistry to people in need.
According to the organization, there are 100 million Americans without dental insurance.
According to the Missoula County Health Department, the state of Montana ranks 44th in the nation for percentage of population covered by health insurance.
This is the first time Garry Hansen has seen a dentist in six years.
"I've had a couple fillings and a cleaning done today," he said.
He explained he avoided it until now.
"Everybody's kind of afraid of the dentist," he said.
But the unpleasant experience isn't the only thing that's held him back. It has also been the cost.
Garry's on Medicare, and the program doesn't cover routine dental care.
Garry explained with all the work he needed, there's no way he could pay out of pocket.
The average cost of a filling, for example, is about $200. On Saturday, more than 40 people in Bozeman got that service done for free.
"This event is for anyone who can't or has a tough time getting dental care someplace else, for whatever reason that may be," explained Dr. Jesse McClung with Big Sky Dental Center.
Dr. McClung is a dentist at Big Sky Dental Center.
The event is part of a national non profit called Dentistry From the Heart, a world wide nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free dental care to those in need.
Dentists from all over host these events in their own communities.
At the end of his appointment, Garry received a total of five fillings and a thorough cleaning.
"He had a lot of breaking in his teeth so we did a lot of filling to repair those breaks," Dr. McClung.
Dr. McClung said he's glad he can give back and provide these services to people like Garry, who's teeth needed attention and who may have gone longer without getting seen.
"I was raised to believe you help your neighbor," Dr. McClung said, "and this is a service we have to offer and it's a way we can help so that's what we're going to do."
Big Sky Dental Center said they plan to host another free dental event next year.