Program Brings Free Dental Work to McCamey

by Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MCCAMEY - Cold temperatures didn't stop West Texans from getting up at the crack of dawn.

On Saturday morning, more than 300 people lined up outside the Upton County Park Building in McCamey to take advantage of free dental work.

After a few fundraisers and 10 months later, 22 dentists made their debut in McCamey.

Smiles on Wheels is a program put on by the Texas Dental Association.

Going miles for smiles, the program brings the professionals to the patients and it doesn't cost them a thing.

"If you're in Dallas or something you know, there's clinics you can go to and all that, but here in McCamey, you might go to Odessa," Kurt Loveless, a dentist from Lubbock, and also a chair of the TDA, said. "We're targeting communities like that where people do not have the opportunity to just go to the local dentist."

Organizers of the event said access to dental healthcare can be a big issue for small communities and it can also end up on the back burner.

"A lot of times when you're budgeting, dental care will come in last because it's the one thing that you can put off," Organizer, Tandy Adams, said.

But Smiles on Wheels, and two other similar programs started 10 years ago by the TDA, are helping to fix that.

"We've done about $15 million worth of work for the people of Texas during that time," Loveless said.

On Saturday alone, dentists and hygienists performed about $100,000 worth of dental services and they had their hands full.

"Fillings, cleanings, extractions, root canals, they're doing it all," Adams said.

This is the first time Smiles on Wheels made a stop in McCamey and Adams said it couldn't have been done without community support.

"I've spoke with every community group and they've all pitched in with help and with money and from the very beginning they said whatever we need to do, you just tell us, and we'll do it," she said.

About 150 patients later, a day at the dentist was a success.

"I'm just so overwhelmed by the generosity of the dentists and the people who donate everything," Adams said. "It makes me so happy that we can help them."