Laura Gones arrived at 7:25 a.m. Christmas Eve at the Comfort Dental office on Noland Road. Three hours later, she was sitting in the office lobby, waiting to be treated.
Laura Gones arrived at 7:25 a.m. Christmas Eve at the Comfort Dental office on Noland Road.
Three hours later, she was sitting in the office lobby, waiting to be treated.
That’s no fault of the staff. Gones was one of many who came to the dental office to get free dentistry. Comfort Dental provided free services in its two Independence locations and in Raytown and Kansas City.
“I need a tooth pulled,” Gones said.
Gones has taken antibiotics to lessen the likelihood of the tooth infecting her body. She is diabetic and getting the tooth removed will lower those chances of infection. Gones is unemployed and just graduated from Heritage College. She wants to be a medical assistant.
“I haven’t found a job yet,” she said. “I have no dental insurance.”
She can tolerate the wait to be treated if it means the pain will end. “The pain will be gone,” she said.
People crammed inside the waiting room.
Shayna Bahr, one of three dentists who provided the free dentistry, said they had treated 30 people by 10:30 a.m. The dentists would work until all got in so everyone could get treated. Last year, staff worked until the afternoon on Christmas Eve to make sure everyone was treated. This year would be no different.
Comfort Dental has been providing free dental day for about 20 years in their homestate of Colorado. They incorporated the charity into the Eastern Jackson County last year.
People began lining up at 4:30 a.m. outside the doors.
“We’ve done a lot of extractions, fillings, cleanings and started some root canals,” Bahr said.
“It’s my favorite day of the year. I like what I do on a daily basis but to come and help people that just could not be seen is just an amazing feeling. It’s just like the best Christmas present I could give someone with the skills that I have. It’s just a good feeling and I think that the way the staff gets a positive feeling from it.”
Bahr’s sister, also a dentist, is pregnant and in the hospital. She was supposed to help with the day. Bahr traveled from Colorado, where she lives, to assist in the program.
Curt Hodapp, of Oak Grove, drove his family to the dental office at 3908 S. Noland Road. “Three children. One wisdom tooth pulled. One tooth extraction. And a check up.”
Hodapp, who has been unemployed for more than a year after being laid off from his Lee’s Summit job, does not have dental insurance. There was no way he could afford the hundreds of dollars of dental care the family got for free on Christmas Eve.
“It’s been a godsend,” he said. “I cannot thank them enough.”
Diana Fitzpatrick, of Independence, waited in the lobby. A tooth in the back of her mouth needed to be pulled. “A lot of pain,” she said.
She has suffered with the severe pain for six months.
Fitzpatrick works at Crossland, a motel in Independence. She has no health or dental insurance.