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September 4--  Good oral health contributes to your overall health and the dental program run by the Mercy Clinic in Vidalia for low income citizens is making a difference.

Last year fourteen dental students from the Regents University Dental School in Augusta worked in the Vidalia clinic under the supervision of retired Vidalia dentist, Dr. LLoyd Darby.

"I'm very excited about what I've been able to do here and I'm really pleased to be working with the dental school.  It's a huge thing for the community because we're treating people who have no other source and we're also introducing these dental students from Augusta to this community," he observes.

{mosimage}(L-R) Clinic volunteer Chan Patel, dental student Amanda Ervin, Dr. Lloyd Darby and dental student Jordon Chancler.

The first two students to arrive this academic year are Jordon Chandler from Perry and Amanda Erwin from Elberton.

"We're learning a whole bunch of good stuff.  We've done a little bit of everything.  I've done some extractions, a root canal and some fillings and we've been working with patients to get a treatment plan so they know exactly what care they need," Erwin says.

And Chandler says there's very little they can't do. "It's an awesome opportunity for people who are on a low or fixed income.  We do probably 98% of what a normal dentist office can do.  With Dr. Darby's years of experience, most things we can handle here at this clinic.  It's a chance to not neglect what they've been neglecting because they think they can't afford it."

Dr. Darby says the clinice took care of 229 patients during its first year and provided services that would have cost those patients $364,000 from a private dentist.

"It's a good feeling to have somebody who comes in in pain and to see them walk out without that pain," Chandler says.

The program is a cooperative effort among East Georgia Health Care, dental hygenists from Southeastern Tech,  the Georgia Regents University dental school and the Mercy Clinic in Vidalia.