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Tickets for free dental care available Saturday

March 24, 2011|Jean Jadhon | WDBJ-TV Anchor/Reporter

You don't have to pull teeth to get people to come out for free dental care. Thousands show up every year to a free clinic at the Roanoke Civic Center, but this year you need a ticket to get in.

The Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic offers free cleanings, fillings and extractions. In past years more than 3,000 people have come out over two days in the hope of getting care, but only about 1,100 people have gotten in.

This year 1,000 tickets will be handed out beginning at 10a.m. on Saturday, March 26th at the Advance Auto in the Old Crossroads Mall in Roanoke.

"We see working parents, elderly. It runs the whole gamut," said Mission of Mercy Project Manager Alison Jorgensen. "With young people who are right out of college, people who are just getting started. We see every type of person at the mission of mercy project. We really do."

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You must be 18 to receive free care.  If you can't get a ticket yourself, you can have a family member or friend pick one up for you.  The free clinic is scheduled for Friday, April 1 and Saturday April 2 at the Roanoke Civic Center.

In past years many people waited in long lines outside the Roanoke Civic Center, some camped out overnight, only to be turned away without getting care.  The ticketing system is a way to avoid that situation, Jorgensen said.

Bus loads of people have also come from out of state in past years, some as far away as Ohio.  The ticketing system may make it harder for out of state poeple to get care because they'd have to make two trips to Roanoke, one for a ticket and a second trip for the clinic.  This new system may mean more people from this region will be able to take advantage of the free care.

Nearly 100 local dentists and more than 500 other volunteers from dental hygienists to parking attendants donate time for the free clinic.

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