Dentists Overwhelmed for Free Dental Care

Two hours after a free dental clinic in New Haven opened its doors, it was at capacity.

More than 1,000 people had come, some camping overnight, for the chance to get a broken tooth fixed or a much-needed cleaning, all for free.

"We're looking for work. There's no medical, no dental, nothing. After 25 years with the city of New Haven, thank you," said Carmen Torres, who worked for the city of New Haven for more than two decades. She was laid off two years ago and was at the clinic for care..

The clinic comes at a tough time for many Connecticut residents. More than 1 million people in the state have no dental insurance and that number is likely to grow.

Thursday, the state Department of Labor revealed that the unemployment rate has crept up to 7.5 percent.

To get your teeth checked, there are no eligibility or income requirements. Care is offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Twelve hours before the Connecticut State Dental Association’s free clinic opened, at 5:15 a.m. Friday at the New Haven Citywide Public Field House, 480 Sherman Parkway, people were waiting outside with blankets and chairs. 

People are urged not to come Friday, because no more appointments are available but the clinic continues Saturday.

By the end of the two-day clinic, more than 2,000 people will likely have received $500,000 worth of free dental care.

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