dental clinic

A one-day, free dental clinic for military veterans will open its doors Friday to provide urgent care from root canals to tooth fillings. And there are no empty chairs.

That’s because the second annual “Stars, Stripes and Smiles” event, organized by U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and the West Pasco Dental Association, has already filled its allotted 75 slots. But veterans’ names are still being taken for a waiting list.

The number of Floridians treated in hospital emergency departments for tooth problems that could have been treated in a dental office or clinic -- or better yet, prevented altogether -- rose to more than 139,000 in 2012, according to a study released Wednesday.

The total was up by 8,000 over the year before, the Florida Public Health Institute reported.