Smiles on us: dentists help those without insurance smile easy

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — They say you’re never fully dressed without a smile. But what if that smile causes embarrassment or serious health conditions?

Saturday, Riccobene Dentistry set out to address that with their Smiles on Us campaign.

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“There’s people who haven’t been to the dentist in 20 years and have had nagging issues that we’re seeing,” explained Dr. Michael Riccobene. “And yeah, we’re not going to be able to take care of their whole mouth, but we can try to take care of issues that will lead to better health.”

Volunteers gave five hours of their time and 50,000 dollars worth of dental care to 144 men and women in need of help, all there for two basic reasons.

According to Lynn Johnson, a patient, “Health insurance. And, well, Coronavirus, too. But mostly health insurance.”

And like Johnson, they all hoped for similar results.

“To help to get out of pain,” Johnson continued. “And more like being…. to get a new smile.”

Starting at 8 am, dentists funneled in patients. Men and women arrived far before then, some driving hours to receive medical attention.

“Absolutely,” said Dr. Stephen Regnier. “The first patient I saw this morning, I asked her when she got here. She got here at 4:30 AM. And she was number six.”

According to another patient, Ronald Williams, “I got up early this morning. I got here like 7:30. I got in like 10:45.”

From 8 am to 1 pm, the 35 volunteers treated patients nonstop, treating 118 cavities and pulling 100 teeth.

Dr. Riccobene was glad to use his platform to help the community, especially during a time when healthcare is so important.

“We’re doing a lot of emerging dental care,” said Riccobene. “So people who have pain, they have infection, they have broken teeth. So we’re trying to take care of those things that could end up making them sick and could end up in the hospital.”

Riccobene said he hopes to hold events like this monthly.

In the meantime, patients walked out all smiles Saturday, happy to be rid of the pain.