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San Diegans Can Get Free Dental Care This Weekend

Dental care is a luxury many San Diegans can't afford. But this weekend people can get it for free.

San Diegans who need dental care are in luck this weekend. Hundreds of dentists and hygienists will be donating their services at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

The California Dental Association is organizing the two-day event.

Care will be provided in a 100-chair portable dental clinic. Dentists, oral surgeons, and hygienists will provide cleanings, fillings, and extractions.

All free of charge.

CDA President James Stephens has taken part in three similar events in Northern California. He said it’s a challenge to screen and care for thousands of people in two days.

“We have to do a health history on ‘em, we take their blood pressure, if they’re diabetic, we’re checking sugar levels," Dr. Stephens explained. "Then we’re doing a triage to see what their major problem is. We’re taking X-rays, we’re doing a diagnosis/treatment plan, and then we’re sending them off for care. It is an incredible ballet.”

Dr. Stephens said dentists from around the state will be flying into San Diego for the special clinic.

“Most dentists join their profession because they wanted to work with people and to help. And this event gives us an opportunity to do something for people that we aren’t able to see in our offices. And it’s a really good feeling," he said.

Three million Californians lost access to dental care in 2009, when state lawmakers eliminated Dental-Cal benefits for adults.

Those benefits have been partially restored.

But the CDA says California’s dental safety net still has a lot of holes.

KPBS' Patty Lane and Peggy Pico contributed to the Evening Edition segment of this story.

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