Saratoga County

Smile: Free dental work offered Friday in Ballston Spa

Saratoga County residents who lack the insurance to pay for dental care will have something to smile

Saratoga County residents who lack the insurance to pay for dental care will have something to smile about Friday.

From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., a free Dentistry from the Heart program will be held at the Ballston Spa-based dental office of Thomas Pray.

Participants ages 18 and older will receive a wraparound X-ray, a personal consultation and either a cleaning, filling or extraction, whichever is needed most.

“Everybody’s going to get some form of treatment, but more importantly, they’re going to become aware of their problems and then they can kind of address this,” said Pray, who organized the event.

The idea for the program came to him last September after meeting Florida dentist Vincent Monticciolo, founder of Dentistry from the Heart.

The worldwide, nonprofit organization, established 14 years ago, provides dental care to those in need and serves more than 80,000 people every year, according to the Dentistry from the Heart website.

“[Monticciolo] started with two dentists in his office and I think they saw like 50 patients,” Pray said. “He has ballooned that out now. Last year, he saw over 500 patients with a staff of like 17. I’m not that creative, so I stole his idea and brought it back to Ballston Spa,” Pray joked.

The local dentist has lined up 23 volunteers, including dentists, endodontists, an oral surgeon and hygienists, to help with Friday’s event. The goal is to see more than 100 patients at his office at 128 Milton Ave., which has six operatories.

“In fact, we’ll do 150 if we can,” he said. “What we’re aiming for is the uninsured that are sitting at home and have been in pain for two weeks and don’t know what to do.”

Office manager Denise Verderese said Pray’s office has been getting many calls about the program.

“There are a lot of people without the insurance, and it’s not just the poor; there’s companies that do not offer it,” she said.

Pray said the village of Ballston Spa has been supportive of the event, with business owners offering donations and police and fire personnel all on board.

“The unknown is what’s going to be wild. We don’t know how many people are going to show up, so we have security for crowd control,” he said, noting that services will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

Participating dental professionals include Pray, Allyson Byrne, Francisco Banchs, Lionel Bulford, Katelyn Page, Richard Salvatore and Vera Salvatore.

For information about the program, call 885-8321.

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