Clinics see more people needing dental work

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Reporter - Lauren Adams
Photojournalist - Jason Thomason

MURRAY, Ky. - Thanks to grant money, the Angels Community Clinic was able to offer dental services to 87 people last year. But, this year they served just a handful and the money ran out months ago.

Arville Simmons, who is disabled and unable to work, was one of the 87 to get help last year.

He described his pain as 'excruciating' and admits, "I was pulling my own teeth, that's how bad it was."

Debbie Warner is the Clinical Director and says there are plenty of people like Simmons, who are desperate for help.

A poll conducted by the Foundation For a Healthy Kentucky was released Tuesday.  The poll says more than half of Kentucky's residents do not have dental insurance.  It is one reason Warner believes her phone has been ringing off the hook. 

"It's just so expensive.  People need groceries.  They need gas in their car.  Dental insurance is just one of the easiest things to let go."

But because this year the clinic received about $12,000 less, Warner is not able to help as many people as she'd like.

"I hate to say I can't. I want to say I can."

That is what Arville Simmons was told last September and he says it changed his life, "I talk to strangers, I smile at people now."

Warner says she has a list of 60 people in the Murray area waiting for dental work.  She says until more money becomes available or more dentists volunteer their time, she will not add to that list.

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