Woodstock free dental care
© John Spink
Hundreds of people lined up overnight to receive free dental service. Woodstock First Baptist Church teamed with Georgia Mission of Mercy to begin a two-day FREE, dental clinic for low- or no-income adults who cannot pay for dental care.
Thousands of people waited in line overnight at Woodstock First Baptist Church for free dental care.

The two-day clinic at First Baptist Church of Woodstock on Hwy. 92 is being sponsored by the Georgia Dental Association and its Foundation for Oral Health.

"The line went around the building, all the way through the parking lot and around a warehouse," said Dr. Richard Smith, who practices in Atlanta. He estimated the line at 2,000 yards and said that at its peak, 4,000 people were in line.

UGA student Jasen Scrivens, 24, of Winder arrived at 1 a.m. hoping to have some unfinished dental work completed.

"About three months ago I had some work done and it cost me a good bit of money and I never got it finished -- I couldn't afford the rest of it -- so I came to see if I could get the rest of it done," he said. He estimated he had spent $3,800 on the work so far.

Stephanie Brazzell of Fairburn said she arrived at the church at 10:45 p.m Thursday and "slept on the concrete." She said it had been two years since she had any dental work done. "I have a couple of missing teeth and I need some extractions," she said. Brazzell said she lost her job a couple of years ago and had no dental insurance.

Smith said hard economic times have created a huge need for dental services.

"A bunch of us started looking around and realized that with this economy we had to do something. We are not responsible for the problem that's there, but we're the only ones who can fix it.

"A lot of these people are in pain, they have infections, they're missing front teeth ... there's a huge need just to get people back to work. Mothers can't take care of their children, fathers can't earn a living ... we've got to help them."

He said there were 100 dental chairs set up at the church and more than 1,600 volunteers, including 300 dentists. "We've got hygienists we've got dental assistants working, there's oral surgeons extracting teeth, we have endodontists doing root canals ... we've got people here to feed them; it takes an army and this church has just been absolutely incredible."

He said it is the first such event in Georgia on this scale.

Smith said the people are in line who do not get treated Friday can return on Saturday. Police were not allowing any more people to get in line Friday.

Dr. Michael Vernon of Augusta said he was moved by the patients' response to the massive effort.

"Two the first three patients that I saw actually sat in the chair and cried because they were so appreciative of what we're doing here and it just made me feel good about being here," he said.