Oral Health Crisis in America:
Right outside of our doors, here in the United States, families are battling the intense pain, complications, and socio-economic challenges that come with severe dental problems.
In many areas of Oregon alone, there is a shortage of dental providers, and the number of available licensed dentists in the Pacific NW continues to decline. While in theory all Oregon children are covered by Healthy Kids insurance, there are many reasons why they may be having trouble accessing it, such as difficulty finding providers nearby that will accept it.
A 2-3 hour drive to the closest dental provider requires parents to take off work. This means low-income kids and their parents (who are NOT usually covered by dental insurance) just don’t go.
As untreated dental issues progress, many uninsured people with dental crises turn to emergency rooms for pain relief. Up to 30% of uninsured individuals who visit hospital emergency rooms are cases that could be treated more effectively in a dental office. Plus, ERs are not properly equipped to treat dental problems. ER treatment for dental disease is not only ineffective, but also costly for both patients and hospitals - approximately $765 per ER visit.
Medical Teams International’s Mobile Dental program has been able to dramatically reduce ER expenses for uninsured patients with dental disease, providing effective treatment at an average $75 per patient.
We have a fleet of twelve Mobile Dental clinics in Oregon, Washington, and Minnesota, which visit many different partner locations. The Mobile Dental clinics are 38-foot converted motor homes. Each mobile clinic contains two dental operatories and all necessary equipment, instruments and supplies.
Our fully-equipped vans are staffed by licensed dentists, hygienists and dental assistants who volunteer their time to provide professional dental care. In partnership, some churches also can provide ongoing hospitality care teams.
We work through over 300 community partners, such as churches, schools, and health care companies, to arrange urgent care dental services. Urgent care dental services include procedures such as fillings and extractions. Our community partners manage all scheduling and appointments.
We also provide preventative care. For example, MTI has provided thousands of children with an easy-to-read brochure and a kid-friendly kit of basic dental supplies as well as classroom instruction from MTI staff and volunteers.