"At the Peninsula Christian Free Clinic in Newport News - one of the few places offering free dental care - 70 percent of patients come to see a dentist rather than a doctor, said Scott Golrich, the clinic's dental director. Many have teeth rotted to the gums and tartar buildup a half-inch thick, he said. One patient had poured glue on her decaying teeth to fight pain.
Groups that try to fill the gaps are overwhelmed. The Peninsula Institute for Community Health, which offers low-cost dental services in Newport News, has had to close to new patients several times, said Edwina Gary, the institute's chief executive officer. The clinic gets 250 to 300 visits a month, and lab work and equipment are expensive."