Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

With day of free care, Pasco dentists fill a need

NEW PORT RICHEY — They used a can of chicken they got at a food bank to make chicken salad, and spread it on buttered bread as they sat outside. It's soft. Judy Berens, 58, and Linda Gibson, 57, don't have many teeth left, and the ones they have are starting to split and rot. They hurt. The last time Gibson tried to eat something hard — a lollipop, not even chewing on it, just holding it in her mouth — half a molar came out with it.

"It's hard to eat anymore," Gibson said.

She and Berens were the first ones in line Thursday for today's Dentistry from the Heart, a day of free dental care at Monticciolo General and Sedation Dentistry at 4530 Grand Blvd. in New Port Richey.

Dr. Vincent Monticciolo founded the event in 2001 and now the idea has spread across the United States. Monticciolo said more than 250 Dentistry from the Heart events are planned this year.

"We're excited," Monticciolo said.

The idea began with Monticciolo wanting to give back to the community and help people who needed dental treatment but couldn't afford it.

It started with Monticciolo and a retired dentist. This year, there will be 16 dentists and oral surgeons, a staff of 40 plus 100 volunteers. Three of the dentists have flown in from other states — Virginia, Idaho and Ohio. Each patient gets a choice of a tooth extraction, a filling or a cleaning.

Last year, they treated 523 people. This year, they expect more.

"We sent flowers to our neighbors to apologize for the traffic" that will clog the streets during the event, Monticciolo said.

The doors open at 7 a.m. today and are supposed to close at 5 p.m., but always end up staying open a bit later.

Berens and Gibson began camping out at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Soon others drifted in. By 6 p.m., more than a hundred people waited in the parking lot.

"I'm crazy about this guy," Berens said. "What he does comes from his heart."

Berens and Gibson wore the free T-shirts they got from last year's event. This is Berens' sixth time and Gibson's third. Every year, they get a tooth pulled.

"I need all of mine taken out," Gibson said. She has been putting clove oil directly on her exposed root to numb the pain since November.

The women met each other while living in the same apartment complex in 1983 and moved in together with their children after their divorces.

Berens worked in a lumber yard most of her life and now has two fake knees, a fake shoulder, a plate in her neck, chronic back pain and migraines. Gibson has fibromyalgia and herniated discs in her back. She said she served in the Air Force and gets medical coverage, but not dental, at the VA.

Both grew up as the only girl with several brothers, so they are like sisters. They live together in a mobile home in Hudson with two rescued cats. Berens and Gibson said they barely have enough on their fixed income to pay their mortgage, utilities and medicine bills.

But they were in good spirits Thursday afternoon. From experience in years past, they brought flashlights and extra toilet paper for the portable toilets, though they were thrilled to find out this year the dentist upgraded to toilets with lights inside them.

They bought snacks at a dollar store and had Sudoku puzzles to work on, a Tetris game they bought at a garage sale and blankets for the night, ready to live outside for nearly a day just to get their teeth pulled.

"For (Dr. Monticciolo) to do this for us — the people who need the help, the ones falling through the cracks — we appreciate everything he does and everybody who helps him," Berens said. "It's amazing."

Erin Sullivan can be reached at or (727) 869-6229.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Monticciolo General and Sedation Dentistry is located at 4530 Grand Blvd. Due to incorrect information given to the Times, the wrong address appeared with the original version of this story.

Fast facts

Free dentistry and skin cancer checks

Dentists and oral surgeons will be treating patients until 5 p.m. today at Monticciolo General and Sedation Dentistry, 4530 Grand Blvd. in New Port Richey. The doors open at 7 a.m. Patients get a choice of a tooth extraction, a filling or a cleaning.

For information, go to or call (727) 849-4246.

Dentistry from the Heart was founded by Dr. Vincent Monticciolo in 2001 and has spread nationwide. More than 250 similar events are planned at dental offices in the United States this year.

Monticciolo's wife, Natalie, is a dermatologist whose practice — Prestige Dermatology — is next door. Today, she and her staff are offering free skin cancer checkups.

A bloodmobile will also be on site. Monticciolo said those who donate blood will get a priority space in line to be seen for dental and skin services.

With day of free care, Pasco dentists fill a need 02/04/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2010 10:42am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh


    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

  2. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  3. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.