Billy Harvey arrived at the Bear Creek Missionary Baptist Association headquarters around 6:45 a.m. Saturday.

He was determined he would be seen at the free dental clinic, even though it wasn't scheduled to start until 9:30 a.m.

"After I got here, I met the custodian who told me they would be here about 9 o'clock," he said. "He said, 'You come back about 8 or 8:30.'

"I was back here by 8 o'clock. I did not want to mess this up. I got here kind of early, but they started at 9:30, and I am out of here now."

This is the second year that the Bear Creek Missionary Baptist Association, 1800 S. Slocumb St., has hosted the N.C. Baptists on Missions' mobile dental office.

As dentists and dental assistants worked in the brand new mobile office -- Saturday was the first time it had been used -- volunteers inside the headquarters building provided teeth cleanings and blood pressure and blood sugar screenings.

An area was set up in the dining hall to care for children while adults were being treated, and bagged lunches of ham or turkey sandwiches had been prepared for everyone who showed up for the clinic.

All of the services were free.

Harvey said he had two teeth pulled because they prevented his dentures from fitting correctly.

He said everything went well and there was no pain, even though he had to talk with gauze still in his mouth.

"I tell you what, the dental lab, it is fantastic," Harvey said. "The people are real nice and kind and courteous to you. They make you feel good. They know what they are doing.

"This is a good service that they are running for the community because sometimes people just don't have the funds to do it with."

Harvey said he wasn't nervous because people greeted him as he came into the building and again at the dental office, making him feel right at home.

He said he was going to have to wait a while before enjoying his bag lunch though, and that he was on his way home to relax and watch the news while recovering from the extractions.

"How many people go to the dentist and get something to eat?" said the Rev. Malcom Lewis, pastor of St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church, a member of the Bear Creek Missionary Baptist Association.

The visit was Lewis' idea. He brought it to Joe Jackson, association moderator, who agreed it was a worthy project.

Lewis said he first became aware of the mobile dentist office while serving as a pastor in Wilmington in the 1980s.

Lewis brought the office to St. Stephen when he arrived in Goldsboro but wanted to expand its availability.

So, he approached Jackson, pastor of Best Grove in Goldsboro, about hosting it at the Bear Creek Missionary Baptist Association headquarters.

"It is not about me," he said. "It is not about St. Stephen's. It is about what we can do for the cause of Christ and to be missionaries."

During its first visit last year, about 45 clients used the services provided by the mobile dental office, he said.

Lewis said he hopes the project will continue next year, but at a later date -- possibly September -- to avoid the vacation season.

The mobile dental office visits cater to those without dental insurance. Seniors were the target demographic for the visit, but children were also welcome.

Registration started around 9 a.m., and the visit wrapped up around 5 p.m.

The medical/dental bus ministry of the N.C. Baptists on Missions began in 1989.

The Baptists on Missions offer the use of the mobile medical/dental units to Baptist and non-Baptist churches and service organizations within the state that wish to help people in need.

The mobile unit travels all over the state providing general dentistry, which includes cleaning and examinations. No fillings or dental surgery are performed.

Lee Phillips, of the Bear Creek community in Chatham County, volunteers as the driver for the mobile dental office.

"This is its first trip," he said. "It is a dental office on wheels. We can do extractions, fillings and cleanings.

"We try to stay away from real serious stuff unless the dentist is comfortable with it because were we to get into a problem, we do not have the emergency facilities on board to take care of that."

However, the goal is still to administer as much care as possible to the patients, Phillips said.

Dental health is normally the first health need people tend to let go, but the health of a person's teeth affects the person's entire body, he said.

The new mobile office includes a panoramic X-ray machine that can take photos of a person's entire jaw, he said.

It can be used to help detect cancer, or "anything" that isn't right before it shows on the outside, Phillips said.