HR Strange But True!
October 29, 2004

It's no wonder that carnival workers often have bad teeth. For one thing, they spend long hours amid all sorts of confectionery temptations. For another, their chronically low-paying jobs seldom include dental insurance.

That's why volunteer dentists come to the North Carolina State Fair every year, offering free care to any fair worker who wants it.

They operate from a bus that's equipped with two operating rooms, a mobile X-ray lab, and its own water supply. The Associated Press reports that on a recent weekday at the fair, 14 carnies lined up for what for was, for many, their first chance at dental care in years.

"We go from show to show, 10 hours a day, 10-day spots," said Chico Alves, a midway games operator. "If you do see a dentist and they give you an appointment, and it's a couple of days down the road, I'm in another state."

Shirlowe Powell, a retired trucker who has been driving the dental bus for the North Carolina Baptist Men for about seven years, said about 60 percent of the people coming in end up getting teeth pulled.

"These carnies, they don't come till it starts hurting," she said. "Really, the sad story is that their teeth have been bad for so long, about the onliest thing you can do most of the time is extract them."

Source: The Associated Press, via

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