STRAWBERRY PLAINS, Tenn. — Medicare doesn't cover most dental work, and for people who can't afford it themselves, it's a struggle.
Traditionally, you might write your representative about something like this, but a group of people decided to mix up their message.
At the Remote Area Medical free weekend clinic in Strawberry Plains, the toothbrushes outside the exit doors aren't just for oral hygiene. Tiana Brazzale with Oral Health America says the bristles serve a bigger purpose.
“We're talking to the public today, the people here receiving services, asking them to sign a toothbrush so they can be delivered to candidates, to let them know that they have teeth and they vote,” Brazzale explained.
The group says the quirky way of sending signatures is a lighthearted way to get the message out.
The toothbrushes will be sent to every Congressional candidate who hasn't said they're working to expand Medicare's dental coverage, to show this is a problem they can't easily "brush off."
RAM clinics help as many people who can't afford treatment as they can, but Saturday morning, many were turned away, including a woman named Nancy Myers.
Nancy has been to multiple RAM clinics to receive medical, dental and vision assistance. Her insurance doesn’t cover dental and vision, so she relies on the clinics as a safety net — just like thousands of others.
Poppy Green with Remote Area Medical says these clinics are so important because there is an overwhelming need for dental care.
“If there's a medical emergency... they may go to the emergency room or walk-in clinic... but on the dental side there's no similar service available,” Green said.
While this all happened at a RAM clinic, RAM officials say they weren't involved in the protest.
Democratic Candidate Renee Hoyos signed a toothbrush, so the coalition says she won't get any in the mail. 10News reached out to Republican candidate Tim Burchett about his stance and haven't heard back.
Over 200 toothbrushes were signed during the week. Supporters can also send toothbrushes individually.