Missions of Mercy dental clinic in Gastonia helps hundreds

Even while Blake Ledford held an ice pack to his right jaw, with his teeth discolored by blood, he still managed a slight smile.

“I might look like crap, but I’m extremely happy,” Ledford said around 8:45 a.m. Friday while sitting on the ground outside City Church in Gastonia.

Moments earlier, Ledford had three teeth pulled at the Missions of Mercy free dental clinic held Friday and Saturday at the church off South New Hope Road. For two years, Ledford had suffered with painful, abscessed teeth.

“They’re angels,” Ledford said of the dozens of dentists and volunteers helping at the clinic. “I can’t explain to you how grateful I am.”

Dentist Woody Bolinger talks with Dana Ware prior to her having restorative work done on her teeth as the North Carolina Dental Society held a Missions of Mercy free dental clinic Friday, Aug. 19, 2022, at City Church in Gastonia.

Forty-five registered dentists, and even more volunteers, will care for up to 600 people in Gastonia over the two-day clinic, said Dr. Hannah Smith, who practices with Kintegra Pediatric Dentistry in Gastonia.

People started lining up outside the church on Thursday morning for the first-come, first-served clinic. Dozens of people were waiting outside the church-turned-clinic on Friday morning, and even more were inside either waiting for their turn at X-rays or to get a seat in the dozens of dental chairs set up in the church auditorium.

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