COOPERSVILLE, Mich. — Lines extended out the door Friday, as a lakeshore dental practice offered free care to patients with priority given to local veterans.
Robinson Dental has put on a "Free Dental Day" for nearly a decade at its two offices in Coopersville and Wayland. The practice started by coordinating with the organization Dentistry from the Heart, but has since put on the event on its own.
It started after recession ended as a way to help people who had lost their dental insurance, said Dr. Scott Robinson, who runs the practice with his wife, Dr. Beth Robinson.
"All of us went into dentistry for helping people, and it feels like certain days the biggest barrier is budget," Robinson said. "So, the doctors come in, and it's just exciting to get to do what we were trained to do."
More than 10 dentists and 60 team members volunteered to care for at least 200 patients. They operated systematically, working from 8:30 a.m. until after 1 p.m.
This service is essential for many people who struggle to afford dental care, said Vicky Meerman, who has attended free dental day for five years.
"If you're making minimum wage, it takes around 20 hours of working to pay for an extraction," Meerman said. "I've saved a couple hundred dollars."
A recent brief by the American Dental Association said that the main barriers to accessing dental care all related to affordability. One 2015 study found that 27.5 percent of working-age adults did not have dental insurance.
"I feel like we've made a difference for people," Robinson said. "The team bonds more over this than they do any day. I think this is something we can do forever."
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