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Louisville dentist offers free services to homeless, low-income families

The Free Smiles Clinic offers teeth cleaning, scaling and examinations to anyone who might not be able to afford dental care.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Louisville dentist is offering free services to those who might not be able afford dental care.

James Ransdell started the Free Smiles Clinic in 2015, offering services like teeth cleaning, scaling and examinations to people without health insurance or low-income families.

"Without this clinic, it would leave a giant hole in the community for dental services," volunteer Joe Jacobi said.

A trip to the dentist's office can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars even with insurance. At the clinic, though, Ransdell said they try to repair teeth and prevent other problems.

Esperanza Rojas, a patient at the clinic, said their work has helped her immensely, especially because she doesn't have health insurance.

"It helps a lot," Rojas said. "I have diabetes and high blood pressure and now, with my tooth, and with no money...[when] you go to the dentist it’s a little expensive."

The work Ransdell does may seem small, but can often lead to changes in not just a patient's smile, but their attitude and self-esteem.

"I think it reestablished their self-esteem, improves social interactions and hire-ability to be frank, it really can make a difference if someone has a nice smile," Ransdell said.

Ransdell said he's had several patients leave his office in tears.

"They look in the mirror and tears will come to their eyes and the hugs are an awesome part of this," Ransdell said. "I think everybody here gets as much out of it as we give, and probably a lot more — I can definitely say I do."

Jacobi, who volunteers at the clinic, said the work Ransdell does goes beyond just a minor fix. The clinic is working on a program for dentures, and finding other ways to replace teeth.

"I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Ransdell," Jacobi said. "Not only is he a great clinician, but he’s a great human being."

The Free Smiles Clinic is always looking for additional donors. For more information visit their website, freesmileslouisville.com.

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