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Need a Hero Dentist? Westside Jacksonville Woman is Grateful for Free Help

12:36 PM, Mar 4, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- The McMillions say affording a dentist is impossible for them.

So they were relieved when they saw the "Hero Dentists" program on First Coast News.

Gail McMillion is missing several teeth and the ones remaining are so weak and infected that biting into a donut out of the refrigerator shoots pain into her mouth.

Her husband is disabled and she works, but there's not enough in the budget to pay for a dentist.

Hero Dentist Dr. Geoff Banga, who graduated Stanton College Prep here in Jacksonville, volunteered to help McMillion and said he believes in giving back to the community.

Banga did X-rays and then extracted her teeth to prepare for a completely new set of dentures. The custom work is pricey, but there will be no cost to the McMillions.

Harmony Dental Lab in Jacksonville has stepped up to join Hero Dentists. The lab is donating $12,000 worth of work and custom dental devices, mainly dentures, to dentists who volunteer in the program.

Harmony Dental is not donating directly to patients. The lab works through the Hero Dentists in the program.

Banga said McMillion's teeth were such bad shape that he understands why she's suffered for years in pain. It's been at least eight years of frustration trying to get help from dentists all over the region, she said.

But now, she said, she is grateful for Hero Dentists and dreams of being able to eat an apple.

First Coast News anchor Jeannie Blaylock has created Hero Dentists as part of the Hero Central project because so many people need help right now. 

However, please remember this is a volunteer program and our Hero Dentists cannot take everyone as patients. The idea is that helping some people is better than helping no one.

Meanwhile, if you need a Hero Dentist you can email dental@healinghands.comcastbiz.net. There are strict financial criteria to qualify as a potential Hero Dentist patient and there is no guarantee every person will be helped through the program.

First Coast News