The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith Dental Hygiene Clinic will host a Free Extraction Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23.
The Fort Smith Dental Association (FSDA) will partner with students, faculty and administrators from across disciplines and programs to host this event, including the UAFS Dental Hygiene, Nursing, Radiology, Surgical Technology, and Masters in Healthcare Administration programs.
“Collaboration between all healthcare professionals is vitally important for each community,” said Charmaine Stuteville, Interim Executive Director UAFS Dental Hygiene Program. “Without the dentists, students and other volunteers, this event would never happen.”
The Extraction Day event, which was initiated a number of years ago by Dr. Charlie Liggett of the Fort Smith Dental Association (FSDA), is returning to UAFS to meet the needs of the community and assist patients who are in pain due to lack of access to dental care.
“The inspiration for the Free Extraction Day came from my many trips to Jamaica doing dental work,” said Liggett. " I loved helping the Jamaican people, but I realized our local population needed our assistance as well. With the help of the late Dr. Bill Pickard, the idea for the Fort Smith Free Extraction Day was born. As the years went on and everything got bigger and better, we partnered up with the UAFS Dental Hygiene school.
A grant from Delta Dental of Arkansas allowed for the purchase of supplies for the event, with additional supplies and equipment donated by Green Dental Lab, Patterson, Dental, members of the FSDA, Welcome Health, Dr. Liggett and Benco.
Dr. David Phillips, FSDA president, noted the critical need for a supplementary extraction day in this community.
“Having access to a day to alleviate pain from a toothache is a wonderful opportunity,” he said. “It is very hard to get into our Community Dental Clinic or one of the other clinics that provides this service due to such a waiting period.”
Regan Ridenoure, a first-year dental hygiene student, said, “Being able to help people to get rid of pain without financial burden is heart-warming,” while fellow first-year Michelle Perez noted, “Events like this give us insight into developing our responsibility for providing community service throughout our careers.”
Mackenzie McKinley echoed Perez’s sentiment, stating, “These community events help us learn the value of helping others through public service experiences. Other dental professionals who volunteer their time show us the value of true compassion.”
Patients must bring a list of medications they are currently taking, and since no appointments will be made, patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis only. People who have had an extraction should not smoke for 24 hours following the procedure.
Those who want to take advantage of Extraction Day should go to the first floor of the Pendergraft Health Sciences Center at 715 Waldron Rd. in Fort Smith. Parking is available in UAFS lots H and K on Waldron Road.
For more information on the event, contact the UAFS Dental Hygiene Clinic at 788-7270.