BRADENTON -- Dentistry From the Heart was its name, a one-day service, free dental work for the needy, Dr. Amir Guirguis recalled.
The practice he worked at for three years in New Port Richey did it annually.
“It was extremely rewarding,” he said. “It was also extremely tiring, but the gratification we got, helping people who can’t get to a dentist for one reason or another, was enormous. It was my favorite day of the year.”
So Guirguis decided to replicate it at Creekwood Dental.
“This office has been in the area for 10 years and though I’ve only been here for one, I thought it would be fitting to do this, express our gratitude to the community,” he said.
Especially the day before Thanksgiving.
On Nov. 23, Guirguis, colleague Dr. Jennifer Pfeiffer and Dr. Prashant Pandya from Manatee Oral and Facial Surgery will host Giving Thanks with a Smile Free Dentistry Day for the needy.
Free cleanings, fillings and extractions will be given starting at 7 a.m.
People are encouraged to arrive early because appointments will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis to the first 100 people who arrive.
Guirguis said he and Pfeiffer probably see be- tween 15 to 25 patients daily.
“I hope we can quadruple that (Nov. 23),” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s based on the size of this facility and how many we can see. Maybe we can see more next year more depending on the response. Maybe we can get more dentists as volunteers.”
The turnout ought to be significant.
One third of Americans do not have dental insurance, according to published reports.
“With how the economy is, there is still a medical need there, but it usually comes as a last priority for a lot of people,” Guirguis said. “A lot of patients we see have not been to a dentist in 10 years or longer, whether they’ve lost dental insurance, jobs or they’re homeless. We don’t question, we just want to help whoever shows up.”
And hopefully reinforce upon them the importance of good dental care.
“Good oral health is integral to overall health,” Pfeiffer said. “By partic- ipating in this program, our goal is to engage pa- tients and encourage them to adopt an ongoing oral care program and a lifelong regimen of preventative care.”
Guirguis, Pfeiffer and their staff are members of Heartland Dental Care Inc., based in Effingham, Ill. It includes more than 300 dental practices in 18 states.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055.
IF YOU GO
What: Free Dentistry Day Where: Creekwood Dental, 5210 Creekwood Blvd., Bradenton When: 7 a.m. Nov. 23 Information: Call 941-755-1488 or visit www.freedentistry.com