The Tioga County Public Health Department is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Tioga Smiles Mobile Dental Program. The program started serving the county in October of 2003 and has since seen over 17,000 patients in the past 20 years.
According to a press release, the mobile dental program was in response to the identified need for additional dental services in the county with the goal of reducing transportation barriers for residents.
“The program’s mission of “striving to ensure the oral health of the community by promoting proper oral health care, preventing oral diseases, and protecting vulnerable populations from access to care disparities” best describes the program’s focus. In response to the designation by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) as a Dental Professional Shortage Area in 1997, which continues to this day, and the well-documented barriers to oral health care, the Tioga County Legislature applied for and received grant funds for the creation of the mobile dental program,” the press release said.
The mobile dental program is made possible by the dental professionals working on the program and the unit itself. Staff include a dental director, dentist, dental hygienist, and dental assistant. The original mobile dental unit was a 53-foot long trailer that was used for 15 years until it was replaced by a smaller, drivable vehicle in 2019. The current mobile unit has 2 dental chairs, office space, and a waiting area.
Tioga Smiles Mobile Dental Program serves both adults and children at various locations throughout the county. It functions as a school-based dental clinic serving children right at their school building during the school year. Adults are welcome to use the services of the program during non-school hours and school breaks. Dental services provided include dental screenings, cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants, fillings, and extractions.
“Tioga County Public Health Department is proud to address dental health disparities by offering the Tioga Smiles Dental Program. The program accepts all dental insurances including Medicaid, plus offers a sliding fee scale for those without dental insurance. Its services help to prevent oral health conditions including dental decay and periodontal disease and promote good oral hygiene. This program gives Tioga County residents something to smile about,” the press release said.
For more information about the Tioga Smiles Mobile Dental Program visit ph.tiogacountyny.gov.