STANLEY – In what has become an annual tradition, Real Life Church at Lucia, on Riverbend Highway, will be sponsoring a low-cost dental clinic, serving individuals who live in Stanley, Denver, Iron Station, Alexis, Mt. Holly or the Mountain Island area.
The clinic has been coordinated by Nick Grice, outreach director for the engagement ministry at Real Life Church.
“Our purpose,” Grice said, “is to reach out to the community, to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
Individuals seeking dental care at the clinic, which will be utilizing the North Carolina Men's dental bus, must be unemployed or have no dental insurance and no viable resources to obtain or afford dental care.
Staffed by six local volunteer dentists, together with their assistants and dental hygienists, the clinic will provide cleanings, fillings or extractions at a minimal cost of $7.
Individuals needing more extensive work may be referred to other local facilities, such as dental schools or public health clinics, and each patient is provided with a dental hygiene bag, courtesy of the dentist or hygienist.
“We are so blessed to be able to offer this opportunity to our community. When there is a specific need that is going unmet and we have the resources to meet that need, it is our privilege to reach out and serve others while sharing the love of Christ,” Grice said. “And when you see people smiling and trying to say, ‘Thank you!’ with gauze in their mouth after having a filling or extraction, it warms your heart to know they are grateful for the service provided.”
Dentists know while it is possible to go to a hospital emergency room for severe dental pain, the only treatment offered is prescriptions for painkillers and antibiotics, leaving the underlying problem unresolved. For that reason, many individuals receiving treatment at the clinic have been enduring serious dental issues for quite some time.
“The folks we treat smile behind their hands, laugh with their mouth closed, often eat poorly because of badly decayed teeth and may be in constant pain,” said Joanne Honeycutt, statewide coordinator for the Medical/Dental Mobile Unit, a ministry of North Carolina Baptist Men.
Comments from patients who received care at the clinic last year are suggestive of the difficult circumstances that led them there.
One patient, a woman, said, “Thank God for the clinic. Without them, I’d probably lose both of my front teeth.”
Another patient explained that she was self-employed as a house cleaner until her car died. Unable to afford the necessary repairs, she junked the car to raise money to pay her rent. Her medical and dental insurance lapsed when she could no longer afford the premiums, and she was three months behind on her rent and without power.
‘When I found out about the dental bus,” she said, “I made an appointment for an extraction. I don’t think I’ve been to a dentist in five years.”
Grice aims to help everyone who can participate.
“The folks who come to the clinic for low-cost care are just like you and me,” he said, “but they’re a bit down on their luck and experiencing adversity. This isn’t going to solve all their problems, but it can at least help to satisfy a particular need that would otherwise go unmet.
“The Bible tells us to help the least of these, and we are fulfilling that mission. We want our kids to know that there is a kind of community service which doesn’t require the order of a judge to perform.”