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Dakota Smiles Mobile Dental Program Celebrates 10 Years!

Helping Thousands of Kids Smile across South Dakota

Delta Dental of South Dakota’s Dakota Smiles Mobile Dental Program celebrates 10 years

 

Pierre, SD. (Sept 9, 2014)--It all started ten years ago with the first stop in Bison, South Dakota. Delta Dental of South Dakota’s Dakota Smiles Mobile Dental Program hit the road in an effort to serve children ages 0-21 across the state, providing dental care to those who may not have the means or access. In the first year of operation the mobile staff saw 890 patients and visited 14 different South Dakota communities.

 

Ten years later, more than 167,000 miles of highways and gravel roads have been covered on the way to 613 weeks of service in 75 South Dakota communities providing dental care to over 25,000 kids and counting. Since 2008, the Dakota Smiles program has operated two fully staffed and equipped dental trucks in an attempt to meet the demand for dental services across South Dakota. More than half of the children who come to visit the dental trucks present with untreated tooth decay.

Bison Community Clinic’s certified physician assistant and office manager, Dan Kvale, has helped coordinate the mobile dental visits to the Bison community since the beginning of the mobile program. Kvale said, “Having the bus has improved the dental care and overall health of our patients.” He believes that it has had an economic impact on the community as well. “It saves parents gas money and time off work.”

 

Kvale says that oral health has always been important to the Bison community but not easily accessed. “Before the dental bus came to town, we had many dentally underserved kids. A large percentage of our children do not have dental insurance. Therefore, as a clinician, I would see kids coming in with dental problems that had been ignored or put off as long as possible. Even children with insurance would have delays because parents are reluctant to pull the kids out of school and then travel 150 miles each way to see a pediatric dentist,” said Kvale. 

 

All the dental work provided in the past ten years would not have been possible without the help of state-wide volunteers, collaborating partners, dental professionals, staff, and the dedicated community advocates who put in the extra hours to make the site visits possible. Everyone involved with the Dakota Smiles Mobile Dental Program continues to be instrumental in improving the oral health of our own South Dakota children. The Dakota Smiles program is the hallmark of Delta Dental’s community benefit efforts, said Scott Jones, Delta Dental of South Dakota’s president and CEO.  “We are pleased to financially and operationally support this important effort that has provided nearly $12 million in oral health care to so many underserved children” said Jones. 

Dakota Smiles Mobile Dental Program was back in Bison, South Dakota, the week of September 15th-19th providing oral health care.

 

 

 

About Delta Dental of South Dakota

Delta Dental of South Dakota is an oral health company specializing in providing dental benefits programs to nearly 1,700 employer groups throughout South Dakota.  Through its supporting 501(c) (3) foundation, the Delta Dental Philanthropic Fund, the company supports a number of oral health causes as part of its not-for-profit mission to advance and promote the improvement of oral health in South Dakota. Delta Dental of South Dakota is a member of the Delta Dental Plans Association, the largest and oldest dental plan system in the country. 

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