Last Modified: Thursday, February 13, 2014 11:30 AM
For many, dental insurance is a luxury that is simply out of reach. But for one day a year, a Lake Charles dentist makes healthier teeth accessible for everyone.
The gift of good teeth extends beyond mere looks — it can make people feel better about their appearance and their overall sense of self, according to Dr. Harry Castle, owner of Oak Park Dental. Every year, Castle and his team give away brighter and healthier smiles for the good of the community.
“The amazing thing was the response. The thing I saw was the change in people,” Castle said. “They had no self-confidence, they were down and out. Once you repair someone’s teeth, you wouldn’t believe what a difference it makes.”
Castle and his office are doing well by any medical office standards — appointments are consistently booked throughout the day. Giving away care is not a clever marketing scheme drummed up to bring in more patients, insists Castle’s employees. Castle said that most of the patients he sees every Valentine’s Day he only sees on Feb. 14 — the day of the giveaway.
Every year on the evening before Valentine’s Day people brave winter weather and begin lining up to be seen by Castle and his crew. For the low, low price of free, the team of dentists and hygienists give all patients who come in that day their choice of a cleaning, an extraction or a filling. Some 150 patients are expected to be seen by Castle’s crew that day.
“It’s not a leisurely day,” Castle said. “We probably work harder on that day than any other day of the week. But it’s just so great to be a part of something so big.”
For the nine hours the office is open that day, the team of five dentists and five hygienists will see patients non-stop. Co-workers go in shifts, giving each other a chance to run out and grab lunch to bring back to the office. And while Castle may be king of the office, he is not the only good Samaritan. All five of the dentists working that day will be donating their time.
He said the choice to give away dental work — which he has done for 12 years on Valentine’s Day — was not arbitrary. “That’s just a day of love,” he said. “It’s just a good day to show how we care.”