For a second year, local dentists had to turn away patients seeking to barter items for dental work.
By Carlie Kollath
TUPELO – Local dentists plan to make Friday’s trade day an annual event. Trade day, an event started last year by Dr. Harry Rayburn at Main Street Family Dentistry, allows patients to trade goods for cleanings, fillings and extractions.
Last year, Rayburn and his staff treated 58 patients and wound up with payment in the form of a puppy, canned food, a high chair, cookies, cakes, homemade pillows and bikes. Patients were seen on a first-come, first-serve basis.
This year, trade day was streamlined as it grew. Six dentists participated from Main Street, Tupelo Smiles and Park Place Dental in Booneville and Iuka.
Patients made appointments and slots filled up quickly. The system allowed Main Street to see 75 patients instead of 58. On a regular day, the office sees about 40 to 50 patients.
Also, instead of allowing anything for barter like last year, the dentists asked for at least four canned goods per patient.
Main Street Family Dentistry collected 563 cans. Most patients brought in more than four cans. Jennifer Powell, a hygienist at Main Street, said she had one man bring in 35 cans, saying it was a good cause and he wanted to donate.
The cans will be donated to Helping Hands and the Gardner-Simmons Home for Girls, where Main Street dentist, Dr. Brett Hildenbrand, is a board member.
Rayburn, who wore overalls Friday in honor of trade day, said he had reports from the other three offices that the day had gone well. The number of clients and canned goods collected from the other offices were unavailable Friday afternoon.
The event is sponsored by Dentistry Making a Difference, a nonprofit Rayburn started. He said he plans to have trade day on the last Friday in March every year. He hopes to get other dentists involved across the region so they can help more people.
This was Hildenbrand’s first year to participate and he likened it to a mission trip. He said he spent the day diagnosing problems and he “didn’t have to worry about collecting payment or acceptance of procedure. You just do it and get it over with.”
He said clients ranged in age and background, but about 70 percent were adults and 30 percent children.
“It was well received and certainly in these economic times, it was needed,” he said. “People have lost their insurance. They’re out of work. Every little bit helps.”
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or firstname.lastname@example.org.