TEXARKANA, TX (KSLA) - More than 2 dozen dentists are volunteering their time to improve the smiles and health of some in the Texarkana area on Saturday.
The dentists and their assistants are providing dental care to those who don't have insurance and can't otherwise afford it.
CHRISTUS Saint Michael Health System and the Texas Dental Association kicked off the Texas Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic Friday.
The clinic opens again early Saturday morning at the Texarkana, Texas High School gym on Summerhill Road.
More than 450 patients are expected to take advantage of the opportunity.
Organizers ask that you plan to arrive by 5 a.m. and bring any medications you are taking.
CHRISTUS St. Michael's Jim Pomery says they've provided nearly $287,000 in charitable dental care in the years they've co-hosted the event.
He says it's a mission of mercy that is paying off in fewer ER visits.
"When we were doing this project back in 2011 we were seeing over 150 people a month in our emergency room who were there primary for dental health needs. We are now seeing less than half that number."
It's also gratifying for local dentists donating their time and talents.
"I have always tried to give back to the community because they have been supportive of me and I think I have a debt to pay," said Dr. Denzer Burke, who has practiced dentistry for more than 40 years in Texarkana.
Dr. Britney Bunch celebrated her first day as a licensed dentist in the state of Texas by participating in the clinic.
"This is a perfect way to start out my first day," said Dr. Bunch. "I am just helping some people in Texarkana. We need some more clinics like this in Texarkana. There are lots of people here that need that need dental work."