Regional
4:18 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Dentist Performs Over 100 Free Cleanings, Fillings

 Around 130 people lined up to do something a lot of people avoid...see the dentist. Karen Zuniga was one of them. Her insurance ran out last year. "So I haven't been to the dentist in about a year or so. And so I haven't been able to get other insurance and I heard about the free cleaning so I came here," said Zuniga. Dr. Brian Gilbert at Bright Star Dental was offering free cleaning and fillings.  "Some patients get a little choked up and some patients give you a hug and i think that's probably the most rewarding thing," said Dr. Gilbert. Bob Cooley comes in fairly often to get his teeth cleaned, but came in today to help out. "I believe very strongly that this is one heck of a good thing...and I just wanted to help," said Cooley. For Cecy Marquez, it's a day to watch and to learn. "So I'm only observing right now, cleaning up taking x-rays and just helping the assistant with whatever she needs," said Marquez. She finishes her degree in dental assisting at Dona Ana Community College this May. "Being able to provide any kind of service to anybody that needs it...that's what I've always like about public health is just helping out the community." Dr. Gilbert the idea from a colleague in Florida. "He started doing it in 2002 and it got bigger and bigger and so we started doing it in about 2006. It started small and now it's grown into lots of volunteer and patients, you know a full day of cleanings and fillings." Dr. Gilbert says this is his way of giving back to the city that means a lot to him...he met his wife at NMSU. "I'm from Los Alamos. She's from Roswell, but we met here and we got married here and we raised our family here. And we just love Las Cruces and this is just our way to say thank you 2:04 and also a chance to do something for people that have a need....and maybe it's one day a year but I hope it helps." All in all, 70 people received free cleanings and 60 received free fillings.  Before Karen went inside, she was grateful, but hopes she won't be in line next year. "Hopefully I'll have insurance by then," she said.