September went out hot in East Tennessee. Caleb didn’t mind; he parked his lawn chair in a shallow pool of shade, clipped a small fan to its arm, lit a cigarette, and settled back to wait. It would be more than 12 hours before the free medical clinic opened its doors. Caleb had read about the clinic online, and that it was best to get there early. Hundreds of people were expected to show up.
Caleb had driven up from Georgia to get a cracked tooth pulled. He’s a lean, hard-looking man with a scar running vertically down from his lower lip, the result of a getting bitten by a dog. His teeth are yellowed, many of them dark brown at the gum line. A few years ago, Caleb paid more than $2,000 to have three teeth extracted by a professional, a price that he considered ridiculous.
A free clinic fights decay in Tennessee.