Jacksonville residents will get the chance to see a dentist for free this weekend.
The Florida Dental Association’s Mission for Mercy event is meant to help people who can’t afford dental care.
More than 2,000 dentists, dental hygienists and assistants will clean and repair teeth, and give dental hygiene tips from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Prime Osborn Convention Center, 1000 Water St. A handful of patients might even get dentures.
Dentist Roger Robinson said providers are wondering whether events like Mission of Mercy can reduce emergency room visits in the area.
“This will give us some hard data to show if we take care of dental patients outside of the emergency room, we can actually map that to fix dollar costs,” he said.
This year, the Florida Legislature passed a bill that would provide incentives of up to $100,000 to dentists for work in underserved rural and low-income areas.
But Governor Rick Scott vetoed the measure. Scott said he agreed with the spirit of the proposed law but he wanted the bill to require dentists who receive taxpayer money to hire a specific number of employees and serve a certain number of low-income patients.
According to the Kaiser Health Foundation, Florida is suffering from a lack of dental professionals.
For more information on the event, visit the event website.
UPDATE: The Florida Mission of Mercy reached capacity Friday morning.