CREEKWOOD — By 9:30 a.m., Debrah Mitchell already had been sitting in the parking lot of Creekwood Dental for more than three hours.
And with each moment that passed, she simply became more delirious with excitement. She’d been waiting much longer — two years, in fact — to have a broken tooth repaired.
“I’m so happy,” Mitchell said as she sat in a canvas, folding chair beside her daughter, Winifred Mitchell, Nov. 23. “I’m tired of this broken tooth. It’s a Thanksgiving blessing.
“I’m unemployed,” she said, adding the $200 to repair the tooth had been cost-prohibitive even while she was working as a cosmetologist. “This is a blessing from the Lord. May God bless this dentist and return his blessing 100-fold.”
Local dentists and hygienists treated 100 adult patients for free Nov. 23 at Creekwood Dental during the facility’s first Giving Thanks with a Smile event.
Creekwood Dental’s Dr. Amir Guirguis said the special event for adults 18 years and older was advertised in early November. The first patient arrived just after noon, Nov. 22, to be treated at 7 a.m. the following day.
“There were 62 people on the list by 5:30 a.m.,” Guirguis said. “They had (created a list themselves and) ordered (it by who arrived first). The crowd out here has been fantastic.”
When Give Thanks with a Smile volunteers arrived on site after 6 a.m., they began collecting information from patients to see what services would be needed. Patients came in primarily for cleanings, fillings and extractions, Guirguis said.
“There’s definitely a need in the community (for this service),” Guirguis said. “There’re a lot of people who can’t afford to get to the dentist. Teeth problems aren’t going to go away. (This day) is our way of giving back and helping people out a little bit.”
Like Mitchell, patients who received services said they were grateful to receive dental care.
“It’s a great opportunity for the community,” said Ashley Ray, who came in with her husband, Stephen, to receive services. “I haven’t seen a dentist in many years. It was very much due for me to come in.”
Stephen Ray is self-employed, and Ashley Ray recently started working through a temp agency after staying home with the couple’s children for more than two years. The couple does not have insurance.
Guirguis said he decided to offer the Give Thanks with a Smile Day after doing it at another practice at which he worked and seeing the community’s need for services.
Creekwood Dental also has provided free dental care to Manatee County public school children for the last two years when it hosted, in February, Give Kids a Smile Day, part of a national campaign by the American Dental Association to provide free oral health care to low-income families.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
Dr. Amir Guirguis, of Creekwood Dental
Dr. Jennifer Pfeiffer, of Creekwood Dental
Dr. Veronica Thompson, of Dental Care of Largo
Dr. Prashant Pandya, of Manatee Oral Facial Surgery Center
Dr. Thomas Rubino, of Bradenton Periodontal
Dr. Eric Ebuen, of Village Plaza Dental Design