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News Release: Delta Dental’s Mobile Trucks Serve 30,000 Kids So Far

For immediate release: Wednesday, March 2, 2016
For more information: Mike Mueller,, 605-224-7345

Delta Dental’s Mobile Trucks Serve 30,000 Kids So Far

Pierre, SD – It might have been the nine year old boy in Oglala who was getting a dental exam.  Or it could have been the two fillings for the three year old girl in Rapid City.  Last week, one of them was the 30,000th time a patient had been treated on one of Delta Dental’s mobile trucks.

“Our first mobile truck hit the road almost twelve years ago.  At the time, I wouldn’t have guessed we’d reach so many kids across South Dakota,” said Scott Jones, president and CEO of Delta Dental of South Dakota. “This many years later and both trucks are nearly booked through the rest of this year and into the next.”

Delta Dental's mobile program is an effort by the company to provide oral health services to underserved children.  The program includes two trucks that provide preventive and restorative care across the state, and hygienists and community health workers based on the state’s Native American reservations that provide preventive care and oral health education.

The two trucks have been in 78 communities throughout South Dakota and provided more than $14.5 million in dental care since the program began.  They primarily serve kids up to age 21 who haven’t seen a dentist in their area in two years. 

Jones said the ongoing demand for the trucks shows there is a significant number of kids who don’t otherwise have access to dental care for a variety of reasons.  “Financial reasons are a big part of it,” he said, citing that 42% of the kids treated on the trucks have no insurance.  “It could also be a shortage of dentists in the area or that a parent can’t leave work to get the child to an appointment,” Jones said.

The services on the trucks are provided at no cost to the families, and the care is needed.  More than 56% of the kids seen on the trucks have tooth decay.

The mobile program began with the Care Mobile in 2004.  The demand and need for its services prompted the purchase of a second truck, the Smile Mobile, in 2008.

Delta Dental manages, operates and staffs the mobile trucks – each costing an average of $20,000 per week to operate.  Local community agencies act as site partners to identify children most in need of the care, with local community sponsors contributing a $2,500 stipend for the visit.

The Care Mobile was destroyed by fire last summer as it traveled home to Pierre after serving kids in Lower Brule.  Delta Dental purchased and refurbished a used truck as a temporary replacement and is in the process of commissioning two brand new replacement trucks.

“It looks like we’ll be busy for a while longer,” Jones said.

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