"This is something to help people who've fallen through the cracks," Magill said. "This is for people who have nowhere else to go."

The uninsured often neglect their teeth for years, then end up in hospital emergency rooms with severe tooth aches. ERs can give the patients antibiotics and pain medication to treat their symptoms, but do not fix the underlying problem, Magill said.

Amaus received a $20,000 grant from the Central New York Community Foundation to start the dental program. Amaus, sponsored by the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, has provided free medical care since 2007. It sees about 30 patients a week.

"We have always had it in the back of our heads to start a dental clinic," said Dr. Lynn Beth Satterly, director of Amaus. "People who have poor access to dental care have poor health outcomes. In many ways the mouth is the gateway to general health."

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