Over 2,000 patients attend Va. free clinic event

Some 2,643 teeth were extracted during a free outdoor clinic in rural Virginia recently, a testament to the growing number of people in the U.S. with limited access to dental care.

The free annual health clinic in the Appalachian community of Wise, VA, drew 2,347 patients who lined up at dawn on a Saturday and Sunday morning in late July for free medical treatments, according to a story in the Washington Post. Most wanted to see a dentist, the Post reported.

Since many of the area's mines have closed, the jobs and benefits enjoyed by miners' families have disappeared, and the annual clinic has become the only source of dental care for many local people.

The clinic was operated by Remote Area Medical (RAM), a medical relief organization that specializes in getting care to isolated and impoverished areas. This is the 11th year that RAM has sponsored the clinic in Wise.

Many patients said that although their children are covered by Medicaid, it is difficult to find a dentist who will treat them, the Post reported.

Volunteer dental technicians worked into the night building temporary models for patients to test before receiving their permanent restorations.

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