UofL students provide free dental care in southeast Kentucky

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by Claudia Coffey

WHAS11.com

Posted on June 13, 2012 at 6:35 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 13 at 8:13 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- More than 100 University of Louisville dental and dental hygiene students are getting a real life lesson outside the classroom.

They spent the weekend in Pikeville, providing free dental care to more than a 1000 residents who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. This is the fourth year the students have participated in this event and every time they say they come away feeling like there is so much more to do.

Inside this Pikeville High School, its standing room only as families wait for dental care some have never had or could not afford.

Marcell Leseur was one of more than 100 U of L dental students who was there helping those in need. Leseur has been here before but, he says the stories still shock and sadden him.

"They said they hadn’t been to the dentist in 20 years. Which is amazing. You take it for granted living in a city where there are people right next door in a rural county that haven’t been able to go to the dentist because they can’t afford it or becuase it wasn’t stressed as a necessity," says U of L Dental Student Marcell Leseur.

Keri Jamison is a fourth year dental student. She's been volunteering her time at this clinic in Pikeville for the last two years. She says families drive in from across the region, sleep in the cars over night, then wait in line for the clinic to open its doors.

"It’s amazing what the people will do . You know they must really be in need of healthcare if they have to sleep all night in a car with their kids and their family just to have a tooth extracted or some fillings done," says Keri Jamison, U of L Dental Student.

Over two days the team performed more than 915 extractions, 296 fillings and basic dental care to more than 600.

"Sometimes the people are in pain. They have abysses and other times they are just so far broken down that it is beyond the point of it being restored," says Jamison.

Since 2008 U of L Dental School has been participating in the remote area medical or ram clinic. It's a way for these students to gain unpatrolled experience and give back. " We don't go for any recognition. we just go to help out," says Leseur.

The group will hold its next RAM clinic in Somerset in September. They also provide clinics across the country, including Tennessee and South Dakota.

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