More than one million Connecticut residents lack access to dental care. But that my change, because a state dental organization is holding the largest free dental clinic in Connecticut history this weekend.
"I'll look at it right before you're ready to restore it. Very good."
Dr. Sarita Arteagaâ€™s doing her standard rounds at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine clinic. She's a professor at the school, and she walks around in her white lab coat with her black hair carefully pulled up. She peers into the wide-open mouths of her studentsâ€™ patients.
â€œAnd what I would do. I would actually try to restore this indentation here. Okay. Just so you can make it even here for your inclusion when you go. Bite together for me.â€
On Saturday, Dr. Arteaga along with hundreds of volunteers will be participating in the Connecticut Mission of Mercy-a two-day free dental clinic in northern Connecticut.
The sounds of scraping, drilling and rinsing will fill an old high school gym. Organizers expect nearly 1,000 people to stop by to get acute dental care from either a dentist, dental hygienist or dental students volunteer. Trevann Lyn is one of Arteagaâ€™s students, and heâ€™ll be propped on a stool this weekend, pulling teeth.
â€œIâ€™m going to be working with oral surgeons that day, so weâ€™re going to be doing basically extractions-the students are. You know, taking down broken-down teeth, teeth that are causing people pain, teeth that are non-restorable.â€
The Connecticut State Dental Association is coordinating the event. Organizers say that similar projects in five other states have delivered 7.4 million dollars of free dental care to 18,000 patients.
Dr. Arteaga is the faculty advisor to a student group, and sheâ€™s always looking for dental outreach opportunities for her students.
"A lot of times we end up just doing screening or preventive things. But we never get to treat, so this is an opportunity. That's why I'm excited, because we get to move to the next level.â€
Part of Dr. Arteagaâ€™s mission in dentistry is to provide care to under-served communities. This weekendâ€™s event in rural Connecticut was planned to help fulfill that mission.