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New Service Provides Philly's Homeless, Under-Served Community Free Dental Care

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — People who are homeless and under-served in Philadelphia have a new service that helps them keep their teeth.

Nationwide Initiative 'Stop The Bleed' To Teach People Life-Saving Techniques

dental care for homeless
Credit: (CBS3)

Specialized dental services are now available for free in North Philly following a ribbon-cutting event at Project Home in the Klein Wellness Center.

Shamir Myers, who was the first patient to get a free root canal, said it was "a blessing, a real blessing."

Myers says his teeth are a mess because he hasn't been able to afford dental care.

And now, the decay has gotten so bad he has infections that cause "unbelievable" throbbing pain.

"The whole left side be hurting the right side on and off," Myers said. "Anytime of the day might can't sleep at night real real bad."

The treatments are being done by endodontists from Einstein who save teeth with painless root canals.

"We're going to save the natural tooth for under-served people," Dr. Louis E. Rossman, an endodontist, explained. "And we're going to do it through volunteer outreach services around the country."

Dr. Rossman came up with idea that's being financed by the AAE Foundation for Endodontics.

"We're going to make a difference and I think we're going to make a difference nationally," he said.

Usually people who can't afford root canals end up losing the tooth or having it pulled.

"It's a self- esteem issue when patients don't have teeth and think about when they're applying for jobs or on interviews -- it's a huge problem," Dr. Fred Barnett, chairman department of Dental Medicine at Einstein, said.

It's a problem Myers won't have to worry about anymore, thanks to the endodontists who are providing free care.

"They're great. They do the job for free. It's awesome. You must gotta love this job," Myers said. "For them to do this is a great job; I appreciate it."

With Einstein and Project Home being the first, the idea is to have the service rolled out across the county, being provided by hundreds of  post-doctoral residents who specialize in endodontics at 58 different universities.

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