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Patients lined up outside Dr. William Messersmith’s Kutztown dentist office early on a Friday morning, some camping out in their cars the night before.
The 126 people were there for Kutztown’s first annual Dentistry From The Heart event Sept. 21, which provided a free day of dental care to residents in need.
“I was greatly impressed by the spirit of giving and also with how pleased and thankful the folks that received care were,” said Dr. Messersmith. “It was a very upbeat and happy day.”
Dr. Messersmith, Dr. Matthew Keller and the other participating dentists (including Dr. John Boyle and Dr. Alan Robertson from Kutztown; Dr. Scott Gradwell, a Periodontist from Allentown; Dr. Michael Hasker from Wyomissing; Dr. Lorri Tomko from Allentown; and Dr. Prafull Doshi from Maidencreek Family Dental) treated patients from as far as Reading, Pottsville, Macungie and Bangor, as well as those from the Kutztown, Topton and Fleetwood areas. People lined up outside the dentist office, some waiting four to five hours for a free extraction, filling or cleaning.
“People have great needs and we were able to help,” he said.
Dr. Messersmith and Dr. Keller hosted the day of free dental care.
“It all comes down to wanting to provide something greater to my community,” said Dr. Messersmith. “The services provided by Dentistry From The Heart helps more than just a patient’s teeth, it gives them a renewed reason to smile.”
Taking care of one’s teeth is important to a person’s overall health, he said.
“More and more people are realizing that dental health issues can affect your overall health, it’s all connected,” he said.
This is the first annual event for Dr. Messersmith who has donated more than $10,000 in free dental care to local residents.
“The community has been good to us and we were looking for a way to give back,” said Dr. Messersmith. “This was a way to (give back) that uses our talents and abilities to help the community.”
Dentistry From The Heart patients travel from across their state every year to local dental practice locations for the annual free day of dentistry.
Dr. Messersmith had seen a presentation about Dentistry from the Heart. Having often seen others volunteer for mission trips, Dr. Messersmith wanted to do something closer to home.
“We need to do something here,” he said.
Dentistry from the Heart provided the structure that allowed them to help the community with dental procedures.
“It was certainly outstandingly successful. The people that were donating their time, the dentists and hygienists, our staff and even our patients...” he said.
There were about 68 volunteers, which included a number of Kutztown University students as well.
Dr. Messersmith hopes to make this an annual event.
Dentistry From The Heart is a registered non-profit organization that provides free dental work for people those in need. In the past nine years, Dentistry From The Heart events have contributed more than $8 million in free dentistry and helped more than 45,000 patients across the country.
In 2001, Dentistry From The Heart started with New Port Richey dentist Dr. Vincent Monticciolo as a way to giving back to the community and provide aid to the growing number of Americans without dental insurance. Since its inception, Dentistry From The Heart has grown to include more than 200 annual events nationwide and provided more than 45,000 people with free dental care services.
For more information, visit www.dentistryfromtheheart.org.