"Open your mouth wide," said Sherry Rhodes, the office manager and a dental hygienist for Lehigh General & Implant Dentistry at 1001 S. Loop Blvd. in Lehigh Acres.
Seven-year-old Nikolay Sereda smiled and did as he was told and Rhodes used her dental tools to check his teeth in anticipation for one of the dentists, Dr. Denise Oaker-Lottridge to come in and tend to Nikolay's dental issues.
Rhodes said it was Community Services Day for the dental practice and that they were providing free dental work to those who qualified through Lehigh Community Services. She said the value of the work being performed could be between $15,000 and $20,000. Not only is this program for young children, but also for their parents who also qualify for the program, Rhodes said.
Nikolay Sereda, 7, opens his mouth wide while Lehigh General & Implant Dentistry Office staff check his teeth.
"This is something our three dentists enjoy doing for the people of the community. It gives them a lot of pleasure to know they are helping people who deserve help and are keeping their teeth in tip top shape," she said.
Those who qualified had filled out an application at Lehigh Community Services and were notified to be at the dentist's office last week, a few days before school was to resume on Aug. 8.
"This has been going on for more than seven years which equates to thousands of dollars. The dentist and dental hygienists give their time to do this service. Our clients will be there from 8 a.m. to noon, said Charlotte Rae Nicely, executive director of Lehigh Community Services, the day before the appointments a few days before school classes resumed on Aug. 8.
Not only was Nikolay there for free dental work, but so was his younger brother, Alex, 6. The two boys sat quietly for the most part waiting for their turn.
Their mother said she really appreciated the dentists seeing her two children. She is a native of Russia and speaks perfect English and appears to be a good mom because her children sat quietly for the most part in the waiting room.
Rhodes, the office manager for the dental practice, said they had set the day aside for more than 20 clients from Lehigh Community Services, but all at once, they had "regular patients with emergencies" come in.
"It was a little hectic, but we hot through it," Rhodes laughed.
She aid about three-quarters of the day had been set aside as
Community Service Day.
"Our dentists take a lot of time to give these clients their attention. It could be repairing a tooth, removing a tooth, cleaning teeth, whatever is needed and the cost is free for the clients.
"That is just something they enjoy doing, giving back to the community," Rhodes said.
"This is an amazing project and we are especially grateful," said Lehigh Community Services Executive Director Nicely.
The project will continue next year, Rhodes said. Nicely said those with children who need dental treatment and cannot afford it can apply next year just before school resumes.
"Open wide again for me," Rhodes told Nikolay.
"He was a good little patient," she laughed. "We took care of him and then his younger brother, Alex. They both were good patients."