The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust has awarded grants to fund free dental care for homeless and financially needy residents in Forsyth County.

The North Carolina Dental Health Fund will receive a two year grant of $113,000 from the trust to operate a free dental clinic in the Winston-Salem area in 2014 and 2015.

Joe Crocker, director of the poor and needy division at the trust, says organizers are still working out the details and exact location of the events.

“This will be the first free dental clinic in Forsyth County. The North Carolina Dental Health Funds holds these clinics around the state, about 10 to 12 a year depending on the resources they can get from a community, including the coordination of professional care from the oral surgeons, dentists, dental hygienists," says Crocker.

Crocker added, "Crowd control will also need to be addressed. Several volunteers are needed to make this effort happen.”

Health officials say as many as 130 million Americans have no dental insurance; that's nearly three times as many as lack medical coverage. In 2011, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 33 percent of people surveyed skipped dental care or dental checkups because they couldn't afford them. 

Crocker says the money from the trust will serve a big need in Forsyth County.

“Our emergency rooms are typically clogged with people who have tooth aches or dental needs that hospitals aren't really prepared to address if you would. We have had both of the medical centers in Forsyth County talk about the need to address this issue during community meetings, so we know there is a huge need for dental care for those 18 and older,” says Crocker.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust has also invested around $5,000 to help fund a free dental clinic for low-income seniors in Kernersville. The Shepherd Center will host a one day event this Friday, May 17 from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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