Fayetteville, N.C. — So many people lined up for free dental services in Fayetteville on Friday that organizers turned people away at the door.
The "Missions of Mercy" event was provided by America's Dentists Care Foundation and the North Carolina Dental Society at Fayetteville's Charlie Rose Agri-Expo Center. Doors opened at 6 a.m., but organizers said people had lined up as much as 22 hours beforehand. Within the first hour Friday, 700 patients had registered and hundreds of others were turned away.
Dennis Fort said he arrived at 1 a.m. Friday. "My aunt called me and said, 'Look, the line is getting long. You better hurry and get out here,'" he said. The free service was worth the wait for him. "It's a lifesaver," he said.
Dentist Roslyn Crisp said the long line sent a message about need in America. "Our system is broken, and I hope in the next few years we can do something to change that," she said.
The clinic continues Saturday, with registration again beginning at 6 a.m. Organizers recommended that people return Friday at midnight to get in line.
"Missions of Mercy" offers free dental care – from teeth cleaning and exams to fillings and extractions – through the services of dentists and dental students who volunteer their time. Adults making up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level can qualify for the free service.