Dr. Rajul Patel says her family instilled a passion for helping people and that passion led her into medicine.
But it wasn't until she was in college that she discovered her passion for dentistry.
On June 23, Patel will combine her passions for the fourth consecutive year as she and her team of dental experts provide free services to 75 patients as part of a Dentistry From the Heart event at her Bloomingdale Pure Dental Spa office at 108 E. Lake St.
"There are people in our community who cannot afford dental procedures and may be living in pain for some time, unable to get the help they need," Patel said Wednesday. "To help free them from that pain is an incredible feeling and something that everyone in my office loves participating in."
The Florida-based organization is a worldwide nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free dental care to those in need. Every year, thousands of individual dentists, hygienists, volunteers and hundreds of practices across the world donate their time and resources to host their own Dentistry From the Heart events.
"We had patients in for a cleaning and learned they needed a filling or an extraction but they couldn't afford it or their insurance wouldn't cover it. And they've come back to this event to have it done," Patel said. "We also have helped people who have never been able to afford to see a dentist. There is a broad scope of patients who need this service."
Patel has guaranteed free extractions, fillings and cleanings to the first 75 patients over the age of 18 to arrive at her office on June 23. An ambitious goal for an event that typically sees about 50 patients, Patel said her facility will be fully staffed with dentists, hygienists and an oral surgeon.
"It will be a long day, for sure, but if we reach our goal, it will be well worth it," she said. "This is our way of saying 'thank you' to the community by reducing the number of dental emergencies we see."
Patel has been a practicing dentist since 2010.