The Dental Hygiene Clinic at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith is hosting a Free Extraction Day from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15.
Dr. Mitzi Efurd of Fort Smith, executive director of the UAFS Dental Hygiene program, said this is the second year for the University to host the event which was initiated a number of years ago by Dr. Charles G. Liggett of Fort Smith. She said dental services will be limited to extraction of one tooth per patient.
Patients must bring a list of medications they are taking and, since no appointments will be made, patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Efurd.
Dr. Liggett said there is “a real need” for an event like this in the community.
“But it would not be possible without the help of other community dentists and support from local businesses,” he said. “This year, a grant from Delta Dental, a non-profit provider of dental insurance coverage, has helped fund the event.”
In addition to Dr. Liggett, participating dentists include Drs. Mark Bailey, Brad Becker, Bryan Bishop, Wes Borengasser, Ward Clemmons, Mike Curry, Nick Grote, Steve Kilpatrick, Wes Moore, David Phillips, Bill Pickard, James Saviers, Wes Shelton, Paul Winborn and Col. Robert Mason. Other dental staff and volunteers are also scheduled to work the event. Dr. Liggett said the growth of the event is amazing.
“I have always said to those who are volunteering that if we are only able to see one patient, it’s one person who will not be in pain for Christmas,” Dr. Liggett said. “We are expecting hundreds this year, and we will do all we can to help each and every one of them.”
UAFS students participated in extraction day in previous years by assisting Liggett at his clinic, according to Efurd.
"Our senior students will assist and be allowed to administer the local anesthesia with UAFS faculty supervision," said Efurd. "Junior students will take medical and dental histories, panoramic radiographs and blood pressure. And both groups of students will help in any area as needed."
She added that people who have had an extraction should not smoke for 24 hours following the procedure.
Efurd said that last year the atmosphere in the clinic was hard to describe.
“Everyone was working fast and furiously toward a common goal, and the patients were so thankful that it was truly a touching event,” she said. “We went home exhausted but so glad to have been a part it. The students absolutely loved it and saw a side of dentistry they may have never experienced otherwise. It is so much work but so rewarding.”
Those who want to take advantage of extraction day should go to the first floor of the Pendergraft Health Sciences Center on Waldron Rd. between Grand and Kinkead Avenues. Parking is available across Waldron Rd.
Dr. Liggett said it is an honor to be able to work in a city with so many great doctors, hygienists, and staff members who are willing to donate their time to help out those in the community that cannot afford the care that they need.
“Last year was the biggest and best year yet, and this year we are building on that success,” he said. “With the help of Delta Dental of Arkansas, the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, Benco, Henry Schein, Blazin' Burrito, and so many others -- who have given so much -- we will be able to see more patients and touch more lives.”
UAFS offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Dental Hygiene and will begin offering a bachelor’s degree beginning in August 2014. The Dental Hygiene program, which began in 2000, is located in the Pendergraft Health Sciences Center on Waldron Rd. The clinic is operated as part of the teaching environment and provides dental health services to the public, including exams, cleaning, X-rays and fluoride treatment, Efurd said.
“This is an important public service that so many local dentists are providing,” said Dr. Carolyn Mosley, dean of the UAFS College of Health Sciences. “It’s also a demonstration of the interdisciplinary cooperation of the nursing faculty and students in advancing the common good. I think our university is unique in this culture of cooperation.”
For more information on the extraction event, contact Dr. Liggett at 479-646-0706 or Dr. Efurd at 479-788-7272.