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Beautiful Dentistry provides free dental care to dozens of military veterans

By Mark Wineka
mark.wineka@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Even though he was in a dentist’s chair having his teeth cleaned, Air Force veteran Patrick Broadway was having the best time, kidding with hygienist Sherry Roseman.

“Everywhere I go, they want to name the streets after me,” Broadway said, spouting a line he surely has used before.

Broadway and roughly 90 other veterans traveled to Beautiful Dentistry at 1401 W. Innes St. Saturday to receive free dental care during a day the office set aside for military veterans and current enlisted personnel.

Broadway served as a flight engineer for 11 years before becoming disabled by Agent Orange. It hasn’t dampened his spirit or sense of humor.

“He’s definitely a charmer,” Roseman said. “I told him he was my best friend today — any charmer like him.”

Roseman has a son, Triston, who is an active-duty Marine now based at Twentynine Palms, so devoting a day to veterans such as Broadway made her happy.

“This holds something close to my heart,” Roseman said. “I’m thankful we can do it.”

Broadway told her she looked too young to have a son who is a Marine. He also announced he would have to wear sunglasses the next time he saw Roseman to cut down on the glare from her beauty.

As Roseman said, he’s a charmer.

From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Beautiful Dentistry devoted nine rooms to offering veterans dental services such as cleanings, fillings, root canals and extractions. X-rays were available if needed.

The office organizers figured each room could see a patient per hour over eight hours, so 72 veterans were given appointments.

An additional 25-plus were on a waiting list, and because the dentists and hygienists were working efficiently, many veterans without appointments were able to be treated.

Back in the summer, Beautiful Dentistry first started circulating fliers and put a small notice about the event for veterans in the newspaper. Dr. Hetal Amin-Patel said within two weeks the day was 80% booked, soon followed by putting veterans on a waiting list.

Last year, the office made a monetary donation to a worthy cause going into the holidays. This year, “we talked about doing something for our veterans,” Amin-Patel said.

The Beautiful Dentistry staff organized the whole event, and it took a village — and about six months of planning and preparation.

“It’s a little hectic, but you kind of expect it,” said Sandy Buechler, the office’s insurance and financial coordinator.

“First time doing it,” added Amin-Patel, “you’re kind of nervous.”

The dentists volunteering included Drs. Amin-Patel, David Mayberry, Mitch Siegel, Michael Mock and Dr. Kenneth Washko. They were joined by endodontist Dr. Brett Henson and oral surgeon Dr. Stefan Simoncic.

The group also included 10 dental assistants, four dental hygienists, six office staff and nine community volunteers, seven of whom were students in Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s dental assistant program.

Dr. Amin-Patel’s son, Roshen, a senior at Salisbury High School, and Roseman’s daughter, Allie, a student at East Rowan High, also volunteered.

“We have multi generations represented here today,” Sherry Roseman said. “That’s terrific.”

Roshen interns during the morning at the office, and he helped in the calling and preparations. “Sometimes people put too much emphasis on school and not enough on community,” Roshen said.

The day, dubbed “Serving Those Who Served,” also had plenty of sponsors. Oral-B and Colgate provided items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, while Krispy Kreme, Jimmy John’s, Jersey Mike’s and Better Loafing delivered food for the volunteers.

Drinks were provided by Mike and Teresa Poe, parents of Wendy Livengood, who runs the front desk and was the first person veterans talked with when they checked in Saturday.

The patients filled out some health information and had their blood pressure checked before heading back for treatment.

Staff members were all wearing camouflage shirts in honor of the veterans, some of whom were regular Beautiful Dentistry patients.

Mayberry had Vietnam veteran John Trexler in his chair Saturday morning and they go way back.

“I’ve known John for years,” Mayberry said. “I think we’ve probably been in the practice the same amount of time.”

Amin-Patel said her first patient came in for an extraction, and she ended up taking out 12 of his teeth, many of which were broken.

The veteran paid her a compliment. He said, “Doc, you’ve got some smooth hands.”

The dentists couldn’t always address everything in a patient’s mouth Saturday. If a veteran needed a root canal and it was seen he also needed a filling, he was asked to make another appointment and the office would try to do the filling at an affordable price.

RCCC student Isabel Temple worked Saturday as Washko and dental assistant Kristen Whitley tended to Navy veteran James File, who served in the Middle East from 1962-66.

Ashley Baker, another of the RCCC students in the dental assistant program, said, “It’s just nice doing this in person — and being able to do it for veterans.”

Meredith Parker, RCCC’s director for the dental assistant program, also was on hand. She said the day had a two-fold purpose for the students. It fulfilled their fall service learning requirement, besides giving them experience beside the chair.

Hygienist Rachel Smith worked with RCCC student Makayla Byers in cleaning the teeth of  Vietnam-era Army veteran Hoye Wensil.

“It’s nice for the veterans,” Wensil said before he opened wide one more time.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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