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While free clinics provide a way to cut the costs of dental care, people who rely on these programs in lieu of dental insurance commonly face a higher frequency of health issues.
Though it's only half-way through December, the waiting list at Centro Medico's free health clinic in California is already full into 2010, the Desert Sun reports.
The clinic, which offers dental care, among its other services, to about 500 high school students and their families each month, was created in 2002 after a survey found that healthcare was a top concern among the area's rural families.
Salvador Gutierrez, an uninsured 15-year old, visited Centro Medico with deep tooth decay in two molars, according to the news source.
Though the clinic's staffers determined the teen needed a costly double root canal, the health center isn't equipped to perform the procedure, and instead gave Gutierrez a temporary filling to address the pain.
"What we're doing is giving it a shot," said Dr David Brodeur of Centro Medico. "It pains me greatly that we may not be able to help."
According to WebMD.com, a general dentist or endodontist are qualified to perform a root canal.
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