SARASOTA--For Stephon Parker, the past six months have not been easy.
"I've had very bad toothaches, sometimes, I cannot sleep," said Parker.
Like hundreds of others, Parker didn't have the money to fix his aching tooth. Luckily for him, that all changed Saturday morning.
"We're doing a lot of extractions," said Dr. Thomas Doan, the dentist behind Operation Christmas Smile,"a lot of these patients have never seen a dentist in many many years."
At no cost to the more than six hundred patients expected to be treated, dentists volunteering with Operation Christmas Smile opened their offices for the tenth year in a row, to serve those most in need on the Suncoast.
"It's a tremendous relief, not only emotionally, mentally and financially," said Doan.
He says there was a pronounced increase in patients seeking help this year from years past. He figures it's just another sign of the tepid economy.
"At this point there was so much of a need, that they had to turn some patients away," said Doan.
Patients lined up as early as 3:00 in the morning,seeking the help they desperately needed.
"For the community it's wonderful, because there are a lot of people, we had like one hundred fifty people out here this morning waiting," said Chrissy Fic, a patient who had to have a tooth pulled.
For those like Parker, who had a tooth extracted, the pain they endured was well worth the wait.
"It will let me be at peace," said Parker, "first I can go to sleep, I can eat, I don't have to worry about the tenderness in my tooth."
Perhaps not a Christmas miracle, but certainly a Christmas gift come early.
"All I can say is really thank you and happy new year, Merry Christmas," said Parker.