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Thousands attend free dental clinic at XL Center; 2nd day to be held Saturday

HARTFORD —  A large scale free dental clinic helped 900 people, including veterans, on Friday, and will do so again Saturday.

There’s a no questions asked policy at the Mission of Mercy clinic at the XL Center in Hartford, said Dr Jonathan Knapp. Just show up and one of the 250 volunteer dentists will treat you. And depending on how long the lines are, you are allowed to have more than one procedure done.  He said they were expecting to see about 2,200 people over the two days they’re open.

While the Connecticut Mission of Mercy Free Dental Clinic is in its ninth year, this year they helped veterans by expediting them through the lines.

“We’re fast tracking them through various points in the clinic so that they have priority and they’re recognized as veterans,” said Dr. Jonathan Knapp.

Many veterans and other patients said it’s saving them a lot of money.

“That’s why I’m here that’s why I want to do it,” said Peter Gosselin, a veteran, “because the other dentist you know how much that costs a grand 3 or 4 grand just for one tooth, and they’re going to do it for nothing.”

The clinic moves from city to city each year. It was last in Hartford in 2014, when 2,295 people received more than $1.5 million worth of free cleanings, extractions, root canals and other work.

Gosselin needed his front tooth replaced after he bit down on a carrot.

In all, 1,600 volunteers from all over the country were recruited to help for dental outreach. The clinic continues on Saturday from 6 a.m. until the clinic is at capacity, or 5:30 p.m., whichever comes first.