Glenwood Springs dentist office gives people a reason to smile at Christmas

Phillip Yates
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” It was all smiles inside a Glenwood Springs dental office on Christmas Eve.

Dozens of men, women and children from around the area visited the local Comfort Dental, 1512 Grand Ave. #102, for free dental work during the company’s 24th annual Comfort Dental Care Day.

“I think they are doing a good job, and people here are appreciative,” said Shawna Esquivel, 25, who had her sister, Shaylyn Sanchez, 22, a dental assistant, working on her teeth Monday morning. “I wasn’t planning on coming, but my mom woke me up to come over.”

Comfort Dental has provided free dental care to children and families in need since 1984, according to the company. More than 20,000 patients have participated, and about $9 million in free dental care has been provided across the company’s locations in several states since Care Day first started.

The Glenwood Springs Comfort Dental has had four Care Days, including the one Monday, since the office opened in 2004, said Dr. Michael Shea, who works in the local office. Last year about 110 patients sought free dental care, Shea said.

“(Care Day) is a day where money doesn’t matter and we can meet people’s pressing dental needs,” he said.

Shea said one of the most poignant moments he remembered from a previous Care Day was when a man slept in his truck outside the office the night before and needed two hurting teeth taken out. He couldn’t afford to have them pulled because of the costs of providing for his family, Shea said.

“He was very appreciative,” Shea said.

Dr. Ben Thornal, another dentist at the office, said he had cared for about 10 people by about 9 a.m. Monday, and the mood in the office was less stressful than normal working days.

“I feel good,” Thornal said. “You are doing work people need and having a fun time doing it.”

Some former employees of the local Comfort Dental enjoy Care Day so much, they return to help out even though they no longer work at the office, Shea said.

Stephanie Chartier, 25, is one of them. Chartier said she volunteered to help out because Comfort Dental’s Care Day is her favorite day of the year.

“I’m ecstatic. That’s why I am here on my day off,” Chartier said. “Dental work is a necessity, and when you go without, some people go without teeth. (Participating in Care Day) is really rewarding.”

Many people who come into Comfort Dental on Care Day hear that the dental work is free, but many still expect to see some “fine print” that will lead to a hefty bill, Chartier said.

When they walk out of the dentist’s office without having to pay is a moment Chartier prizes.

“It is just the look in the their eyes when they realize it’s (free),” Chartier said.

Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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