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Free Dental Care in Logan Square Has Patients Lining Up

LOGAN SQUARE — It's hard to imagine people lining up to see the dentist, but that's what happened Wednesday at 1st Family Dental in Logan Square.

The dental clinic at 2511 N. Milwaukee Ave. offered free dental work all day, including exams, cleanings, fillings, X-rays and extractions.

The clinic, which has 10 locations in the city and suburbs, has been offering free services for years at its Aurora and Roselle locations as part of the Dentist With a Heart program.

In its 13th year, dozens of dentists and dental assistants participated, offering free dentistry in the suburbs along the Fox River Valley for part of one week in February.

After participating last month, 1st Family Dental decided to bring that good will to the city.

"This is the first one we've done in the city, so we're really excited about it," general manager Jessica French said.

She said beyond cleanings and fillings, dentists do whatever "triage" is needed to ease any pain patients are having.

"They'll do what they can, but if [the patients] need more work then they can come back and get good discounts," French said. "If not, at least we'll alleviate what's keeping them up at night."

Delories Turner, 53, said she saw a flier and came up from Englewood to get a cleaning and an exam. She's a student and does not have insurance.

"It's just been a while since I had my teeth cleaned, and I also needed a filling," she said, adding, "I feel better now."

Lawrence Velano is one of the dentists who donated his time Wednesday. He usually divides his time among the 1st Dental locations in Andersonville, Albany Park and Little Village, but he was among four dentists and four dental assistants who came to the Logan Square location to help the regular staff with Wednesday's crowd.

"It's a nice program," he said. "It's something good for the community, and good marketing, too."

Wednesday's event also featured a little neighborhood togetherness from some other businesses.

Next door to 1st Family Dental, Miller Chicago Real Estate opened its doors and provided a place to sit and some hot coffee for the spillover crowd, and nearby Father and Son Pizza donated a tray of food for the staff, who it seemed barely had time to eat as they hustled around helping patients.

All told, more than 100 patients were seen from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, but amidst all the running around, dental assistants manager Bogdana Kostyshyn got a chance to stop and take a breath, and say that it was all worth it.

"It's a great opportunity to help people," she said. "A lot of people can't afford dental work."