As a senior living on a very limited income I, along with many others, have found it practically impossible to get any kind of dental care. I, for one, have had a badly infected and out-of-place molar causing me great pain for over three months.

I tried the Eastside Dental Clinic. It was very difficult for an adult to get in, requiring one to go through the Casa Esperanza for approval and you must have a TB shot, something that, for health reasons, I refuse to take. CenCal has three dentists in Santa Barbara who may help those on Medicare. On Friday I tried contacting them. Two did not answer their phones and one is no longer takes in new dental patients. My general practitioner told me to go to the emergency room at Cottage Hospital. But they do not do dental work unless it is life threatening.

Fortunately, we here in Santa Barbara have The Independent. I read it every week, including the “This Week In Santa Barbara” column. More than fortunately, I noticed that on Saturday, Johnson Family Dental of Santa Barbara was having another one of their annual free dental clinics. I went there before 8 a.m. and, after a short wait, was ushered into the clinic, where a large group of dedicated, courteous, and professional persons ministered to my need.

I learned that some folks arrived at the upper State Street address at 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning. It was very cold and it had to be extremely uncomfortable to be there at that time. Another person I talked to got there at 4 a.m. This is a small expression of the desperation many of us in this community face regarding dental services.

My deepest thanks and kudos to Johnson Family Dental of Santa Barbara for their kindness and their commitment to our wonderful community. My faith is restored, my heart is filled with gratitude, and the excruciating pain I endured for three months is gone. – Stephen Smith, S.B.


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