Local veterans had an extra reason to smile Wednesday, thanks to the brainchild of a Roseburg dentist.
Dr. Alanson Randol created Freedom Smiles, a day dedicated to providing free dental services for veterans at his Roseburg office.
The offer was good for both active and retired military veterans.
Randol said he found many veterans going without dental service.
“We’ve found there was a need because of the patients that fall through the cracks,” Randol said. “Plus this group does a lot for us as Americans and I think it’s important to give back, so it’s something that we can do putting our skills to use helping them out.”
The dentists at the office took care of fillings, extractions, cleanings and other procedures that could be done in one sitting, and if it was more complicated, they scheduled another appointment at no cost to the veteran.
Dutch Bros. even set up a mobile coffee stand outside the office and gave free drinks to the veterans throughout the day.
The office had seven chairs going from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and they were filled most of the day. The office took appointments and also squeezed in walk-ins whenever they came through the door.
Navy veteran Bill Pike served from 1974 to 1977. He said he wouldn’t have been able to get dental care if not for the clinic.
“I can’t afford it and I’m not service-connected, so I would have had to fork out big bucks, which I don’t have, so this is great,” Pike said.
Bryan McCurry of Roseburg, served in the Navy from 2006-2014. Even though he didn’t make an appointment, McCurry was able to get in after a short wait.
“I just showed up in hopes they had something available and they got me in in less than half an hour,” McCurry said. “A lot of the veterans don’t have dental, so having someone provide service for free is awesome.”
Dr. Emily Gaunt, a dentist at Dr. Randol’s office, said the veterans were appreciative of the chance to get some dental work done, that many have had to put off because of the cost.
“Some said, ‘Well, I can’t afford that,’ but we tell them it’s free, and they’re very appreciative about it,” Gaunt said. “This is awesome, I’m really happy that Dr. Randol offered this. We had a lot of people signed up and used all seven chairs.”
The dentists served 24 veterans during the day.
“It’s actually amazing how much dentistry you can do when there’s not financing involved,” Randol said.
“When Dr. Randol brought it to the team, we were all really excited about it and got on board and started making it happen getting advertising out there,” said Dawn Douthitt, marketing director for Dr. Randol’s. “The doctor has a soft spot for veterans because they sacrifice so much, so he just wanted to find a way to give back to them.”
Randol said a lot of the veterans don’t know some of the benefits that are available to them, so his office made an effort to connect the veterans with those organizations that can help get some of the more complicated dental work taken care of.