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Celebrating 25th Annual Free Dental Day In Oakhurst

OAKHURST – The Tooth Fairy flew in to remind us this week marks the 25th annual Free Dentistry Day in Oakhurst, when a team of professionals will once again join forces to help patients who do not have dental insurance and cannot afford to see a dentist.

The free day of healthy hygiene will take place at the practice of Dr. Rodney Peter and Dr. Dennis Jones, located at 49255 Golden Oak Loop, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7. Fortunately, a community of local dentists have come on board to help, enabling the teams to reach more people and provide additional service.

Together the resident doctors, in cooperation with Dr. Bob Brosi, Dr. Ryan Franklin, and Dr. Anna Marie Grady, will volunteer free dental treatment for adults and children who otherwise would go without. Patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis, so people are advised to arrive early in the day.

Dr. Jones started the tradition 25 years ago and Dr. Peter joined in this service 17 years ago.

Adults and children can be seen for a one-appointment procedure such as a filling, treatment of a toothache or an extraction. Cleanings will be done only on children under the age of 14. Crowns, bridges or partials will not be available on free dental day, though the lab will do minor repairs on dentures and partials.

Patients will be evaluated and, in some cases, sent to the offices of Dr. Brosi or Dr. Franklin, a cooperative effort that works out perfectly, according to staff. It’s all hands on deck — and Cool Bean Cafe provides complimentary coffee.

“It’s the best day of the year,” says longtime RDA Janet Kelly, who has been with the practice for every single one of the free dental days over the last quarter-century. “We don’t worry about anything other than doing dentistry.”

In the course of the high-energy event, the office will see about twice as many patients as usual. Each unique interaction is especially important.

“We derive our living from this community so it’s an opportunity to give back,” Kelly explains. “When you have dental pain, when you are embarrassed about the way you look, when you can’t smile at someone — it totally changes your personality. Dr. Jones recognized a need in the community when he started this and everyone looks forward to it. It’s all donated time, and our doctors donate all the supplies — it takes a lot to get it done.”

As patients move from room to room, the practice has auxiliary staff on hand cleaning and sterilization is fast and thorough. In past years, students from Yosemite High School have helped coordinate Free Dental Day as part of their community service projects prior to graduation.

This year, the honor goes to Isabella Peter, who goes by Izzy, daughter of Dr. Rodney and Mrs. Jenny Peter. Izzy has taken charge, Kelly says, distributing information, helping in the back and working hard to make sure things run smoothly.

Some of the patients seen on this day are those who have previously been with the practice, while others are new. All are welcome provided time is available. Families are encouraged to bring children, even though the office hours occur during school-time. Parents are urged to take advantage of the service.

“We are seeing more families who have been patients in the practice, but situations change, perhaps jobs were lost — they still come back.”

All in all, it’s a heartfelt day of collaborative service in which the town’s family of dentists band together to show their appreciation for the community. Thank you for your many years of service.

For more information, call (559) 683-4544.

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