An annual free dental clinic that draws thousands of patients kicked off on Friday morning in Torrington.
The Mission of Mercy opened its doors at Torrington High School at 8 a.m. and quickly reached capacity.
Patients who didn't get a spot were urged to try again on Saturday morning.
"It’s a free clinic and I don’t have dental insurance and it’s hard to get dental insurance," said Ann Beaulilu of Torrington.
More than 100 dentists are there both Friday and Saturday to give free care on a first-come, first-serve basis.
"Oral health is important," said Dr. Jon Knapp, a dentist. "Having teeth and being able to smile and not having pain it’s just important to daily living."
The care includes everything from cleanings to fillings to x-rays and even root canals.
The clinic has been happening for a decade.
Last year, dentists donated $1 million worth of dental care. Since 2008, they've provided more than $12 million in care.
Channel 3 spoke with one man who had been in line since 3 a.m. on Friday.
“Because I don’t have dental [insurance] and this is a way for my wife and I to get our dental work done," said Bill Wilson of Middletown. "I just can’t afford it otherwise."
The clinic runs both Friday and Saturday at the high school, which is located on Major Besse Drive in Torrington.
Doors open at 8 a.m. Organizers urged patients to get there early.
“Having coordinated AmeriCorps volunteers for the Connecticut Mission of Mercy free dental clinic for several years, we applaud CTMOM’s tireless efforts to provide free dental care to thousands of patients in need over the span of just one weekend, as they are doing today and tomorrow in Torrington. Once the clinic closes on Saturday afternoon, we want to remind people that community health centers across the state are open for business to provide a full range of dental care to anyone who needs it, regardless of their age, insurance status or ability to pay,” said Deb Polun, Senior Director of Policy & Outreach, Community Health Care Association of Connecticut.
Information on volunteering and donating to the clinic can be found here.
For more on the clinic itself, head to the CT MOM website here.
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