A partnership between a local university and an organization aimed at helping people in need are giving some people a new smile.
Dental students at East Tennessee State University are providing free dental work for people around the Tri-Cities. We spoke with a patient and student who say this program is vital.
Dental care isn't the first thing people think about during hard times -- that's because most of the services are too expensive. But ETSU students are putting down the books to help provide that care to those in need.
Rose Marsh is a patient at Healing Hands in Bristol. "It's really great to know there's a service out here that's willing to help people, not turn them away," she told us.
The group helps people who work but are uninsured or under-insured, and they provide more than medical care. "Without this I wouldn't have my teeth being worked on," Marsh said. "I can tell you that it would probably be another couple of years before I would have the things done to my mouth that I need."
There is a program between Healing Hands and ETSU that provides dental work from students for free, or simply a donation for those that can afford it.
Dental hygiene Brittany Robinson is helping out with the program. "Some patients may not have to pay anything, and then some patients may pay $5, $10," she explained.
Four students in the program rotate to Healing Hands every Monday and Wednesday, providing patients with the oral care they need. "They'll do a medical history and vitals, check on every patient," Robinson explains. "Then they will go through and check the gum health of each patient and chart any watch areas they may find."
The students get a grade for the work they do, and the patients get the care they're in desperate need for.
The program doesn't just help patients; it helps students get the experience they need.
The students also teach the patients about the importance of good teeth cleaning habits at home.
The ETSU students rotate between four locations in the Tri-Cities.