Sunrise Dental partners with Florida Baptist to offer free dental care on April 3

Office hopes to serve at least 50 patients at its Orange Park office

By Wesley LeBlanc wesley@opcfla.com
Posted 3/29/21

ORANGE PARK – A local dentist office is holding its first Free Dental Day next month.

It’s a day that will include five dentists, two hygienists, four dental assistants, four office staff and …

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Sunrise Dental partners with Florida Baptist to offer free dental care on April 3

Office hopes to serve at least 50 patients at its Orange Park office

Posted

ORANGE PARK – A local dentist office is holding its first Free Dental Day next month.

It’s a day that will include five dentists, two hygienists, four dental assistants, four office staff and six hygiene students. They will donate their time and skills for free in an effort to alleviate the oral pain felt by 50 or more patients. The April 3 event will consist of a lot of oral surgery and pain relief, according to dentist Michael Thomasino, owner of Sunrise Dental in Orange Park and Jacksonville Emergency Dental.

“We’ve done free dental work with the Florida Baptist Convention in the past in their dental bus and we’ve done a lot of volunteer work with Freedom Clinic in Ocala,” Thomasino said. “I said, ‘why not do this in Orange Park or Jacksonville, too?’ and the idea was born.”

Thomasino said his office contacted Florida Baptist Convention community ministries catalyst, Marc Johnston, about getting their organization, which has a dental ministry arm, involved.

“Our dental unit goes all over the state,” Johnston said. “Florida Baptist started its dental ministry way back in 1973. We’re on our third unit now.”

Thomasino said the dentist office and Johnston’s team have gone to several shelters in the area to talk with potential patients and discover would-be patients in need of dental work. They were specifically looking for people in pain and in need of surgery or work that otherwise wouldn’t be affordable. Patients will come in for a medical and financial screening on April 1 and the Free Dental Day with at least 50 patients.

Thomasino said the treatments are going to be mostly oral surgery, including removing painful teeth and adding fillings. There aren’t really any outside sponsorships – just the work of Thomasino’s offices and Johnston’s ministry’s arm.

“I just feel like it’s going to be a very good day and time,” associate dentist, Tatiana Rocha, of Sunrise Dental in Orange Park said. “A lot of people that come to these have dental needs that would be expensive and we do it right there for free. As someone who’s Hispanic himself, I know there’s a lot of underserved people in the hispanic community and it means a lot that I’ll be able to help them out and the greater Clay County community.”

“We’re there to make them happy and if they’re happy, we’re happy,” he said.

Free Dental Day will be mostly composed of dentists Thomasino employs, along with dentists from the Florida Baptist Convention. Thomasino already has plans to hold even more free dental days like this and he hopes to get more dental students involved.

Johnson recalls a woman that recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Rollins College with aspirations to get into dental school.

“She had gap time in between then and dental college and she volunteered to work on our dental unit for several months,” he said. “It was wonderful. She traveled around with us and learned so much, but the exciting thing is that when she interviewed at UF, she had an instant connection there because someone on the faculty team had actually worked on the unit.”

Johnston said this is just one of many more great stories that have come out of free dental works.

Thomasino said the day is already set as far as patients and dentistry-related volunteers go, but that if any business wants to sponsor the event, they can contact Sunrise Dental at (904) 586-1234.

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