By Melody Vallieu
TROY — Nothing beats a great smile — and one dentist’s office in Troy wants to help people grin like a Cheshire cat.
Excellence in Dentistry on Feb. 11 will offer its 10th annual Gift of Dentistry Day, providing patients in need with free services throughout the day.
The event, which begins at 6 a.m., is a first come, first served event to be held at the offices located at 1523 N. Market St. in Troy, according to Nicole McFadden, public relations coordinator. She said staff will perform cleanings, fillings and extractions. Each person is limited to one procedure, but patients can re-join the end of the line to get a second procedure if time allows, she said.
“We look forward to this opportunity to serve our community year after year,” said McFadden, who said Troy Mayor Michael Beamish even stops in prior to the office opening for the day, offering a pep talk for the staff. “Dentistry is often discretionary for many families because they cannot afford it. This is one way that we can help and we are proud to do just that.”
McFadden said a decade ago staff decided to make a difference in the community by offering free dentistry to those who could not afford it. Dr. Mark Bentley DDS, had been on many mission trips at this point and “it just made sense to help right in our own backyard,” McFadden said.
She said those in Miami County who cannot afford dental care are the community members they will see on Feb. 11.
“Patients will need to complete paperwork when they arrive, but we are taking them at their word that they are not gainfully employed and cannot afford their dentistry,” McFadden said. “We do not ask financial questions, just questions related to their health that might effect the services they will receive.”
She said they only see children who are over 16, but they must be accompanied by a guardian if they are between 16-17 years old.
Throughout the past 10 years, the staff of 35, which includes Dr. Bentley, Charles Stevens, DDS, Julie Jones DDS and Junho Choi DMD, have served around 100 patients per year and given away more than $200,000 in dentistry. Other local colleagues, Dr. Wayne Fisher and his staff, Dr. Paul Kroger and Dr. Steven Pierson, also have joined the office at different times over the years.
“The staff come together as a team. Sometimes staff members who are no longer with us come out and join the fun,” McFadden said. “We do not get paid and neither do the doctors, this is our gift to the community.”
Some of the office’s suppliers get on board offering give-aways for the event as well, she said. Local pizza places in past years have even provided staff with free lunch.
The event is something staffers honestly look forward to each year, according to McFadden.
“Several of our staff members have been with the office for over 10 years, so our “long-timers,” so to speak, really look forward to it. Newer employees never quite know what to expect, but once they experience it, they love it,” she said. “Most of the employees tell you that it is great to be part of something to give back, it is hard to give on your own in such a way.”
At the end of the day, the patients make it all worth it, she said.
“It is great to hear all the stories and see a patient come in the door who didn’t’ want to smile, but when they leave, they have a smile,” she said.
Reach Melody Vallieu at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (937) 552-2131