The ninth annual Connecticut Mission of Mercy free dental clinic is this Friday and Saturday in Hartford, and this year it could serve a couple of thousand people at the XL Center.
Hundreds of dentists and hygienists will volunteer with others to help patients in need of care, but who likely can't afford to pay for it.
"We will be providing all sorts of services, from cleanings and fillings to extractions, some root canals," said Jonathan Knapp, a dentist and a board member with the program. "Most of these folks, many of them are in pain and haven't been able to access dental care any other way."
That's because most of the patients are typically under insured or uninsured, Knapp said. His organization says there are close to a million people in the state in a similar situation.
"It's no questions asked," Knapp said. "It's first-come, first served. We get mostly patients that have a hard time affording dental care in the state of Connecticut."
The clinic will have about 140 chairs to see about 1,100 patients each day and costs about $300,000 to operate, said Knapp, who said he finds the work there both useful and rewarding.
"I love it. This is one of the most fulfilling things you can do as a professional," he said. "In terms of resources, I went to the University of Connecticut dental school and so the citizens of Connecticut supplemented my education and I feel like it's a great way to give back. And you when you see the smiles and the appreciation you get from the patients every year, its extraordinarily fulfilling."
Doors open each morning at 6:00 am.