Dental relief on wheels

July 13, 2016

MTIVanFor seven months, Steve has been seeking help for a toothache while living in pain. Left untreated, his daily life had become increasingly agonizing.

But relief was in sight once he found the Mobile Dental Program at Providence. Parked right outside the doors of Providence hospitals, clinics, and community organizations across Oregon, a van fully-equipped for dental services helps people like Steve who have nowhere else to go.

“I am so thankful for this van ending my pain and suffering,” said Steve. “It truly is a blessing not having to deal with this any longer.”

Partnership brings hope and healing to thousands

In response to the lack of access to affordable dental care, Providence partnered with Medical Teams International to provide a solution on wheels. Providence’s dental van coordinators and parish health promoters identify people that need dental care – most often in local emergency departments where many uninsured and underinsured people seek care for dental issues – and schedule their appointments in the dental vans. Since the partnership began in 2009, more than 5,000 people across Oregon have received the dental care they desperately needed.

Improving community health one filling at a time

Oral health consistently ranks among Providence’s top priority needs identified by community health needs assessments. Since 2012, more than $500,000 has been invested in the program to end dental pain and suffering for good. Providence’s community health investment also significantly reduces health care spending – it is estimated that more than $8 million is spent each year on avoidable ED visits for dental pain in Oregon*. Now thousands of dental patients are being redirected from the ED to the comfort and relief of a dentist’s chair.

* Based on 2013 study by Oregon Health & Sciences University and the University of Washington.