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Tallahassee Dentists Offer Free Care 'From the Heart'

Dr. Walter Colon

The words “free” and “dental care” seldom appear next to each other, but they'll team up this Saturday as some Tallahassee dentists give their services away.

With all the recent and ongoing hoopla about affordable health care, one mostly ignored fact is that around 130 million Americans lack dental insurance and get little or no regular dental care.  A group of local dentists are doing something about that.

“We just decided to do this program ‘Dentistry from the Heart’, which is wonderful!  At least ten dentists have come together and they’re going to volunteer their time, I’ve given them the office, our staffs have volunteered their time and they’re all coming together Saturday to give a day of service," Dr. Walter Colon with Periodontal Associates of North Florida.

Dr. Colon says the volunteer dental team will set up shop in his offices on West Plaza Drive, just east of Phillips Road off Mahan Drive on Saturday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

“We’re offering dental cleanings; we’re offering extractions; and we’re offering dental fillings.  We guarantee that we’re going to see 75 patients and it’s on a first come, first served basis," he said.

Besides offering these routine dental procedures for free, Dr. Colon says there’s another good reason to have a dentist check you out.  February is Gum Disease Awareness Month and a new study shows that nearly half of American adults suffer from gum or periodontal disease.  And most of them don’t even know it.

“That’s another thing that has made my team and my office step it up and we’re really making a big effort this month to have patients – all patients – whether in great need or regular patients who may or may not have gum disease, to ask their dentist to give them their yearly periodontal evaluation.”

This is a first-of-its kind occasion, and Dr. Colon says he is eager to see how it goes.

“Thanks to all that volunteers who are coming this Saturday to help us with this event.  It’s a great community project where these professionals have come together and I can’t wait to see what it’s like that day, because this is a new experience for everybody involved and we’re looking forward to a great outcome.”

Since free dental care doesn’t happen every day, this is definitely a situation in which “get there early” is very appropriate advice.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories. here.