50,000 healthy smiles! 

Delta Dental of South Dakota's Mobile Program trucks serve 50,000 kids so far 

There's a new milestone for Delta Dental of South Dakota’s program to provide dental care to kids who otherwise wouldn’t have access to care.

It may have been the 9-year-old in Gettysburg getting a tooth pulled, a cavity filling, and sealants. Or it could have been the 5-year-old in Lower Brule getting six cavity fillings, six teeth pulled, and sealants. During the final week of June, one of them was the 50,000th time a patient has been treated aboard one of Delta Dental’s mobile clinic trucks.

Scott Jones, president and CEO of Delta Dental of South Dakota, said “Twenty years ago, we knew there was a need to get dental care to kids in many places in South Dakota, and we wanted to help. Together with our partners in communities across the state, we’ve done a lot of good for a lot of kids.”

Delta Dental’s Mobile Program includes two mobile dental clinic trucks that travel the state and dental hygienists and community health workers based on the state’s Native American reservations.

The two mobile dental clinic trucks have visited 86 communities across South Dakota and provided more than $29 million in dental care since the program began. They primarily serve kids through age 21 who haven’t seen a dentist in their area in more than two years or if they live more than 85 miles from a dentist.

Watch the video commemorating the milestone! 

The mobile clinic trucks serve approximately 3,000 kids every year. Care is provided at no cost to the child or family.

The impact of providing dental care to kids is significant. “More than half of the kids who come aboard have tooth decay, and many are in pain. That affects their ability to pay attention in school, and eat, and develop as happy healthy kids,” Jones said. “When their oral health is better as kids, they can become healthy and productive adults.”

Delta Dental of South Dakota manages, operates and staffs the trucks. Local community agencies act as site partners to host a truck visit, providing the location, promoting the clinic, and recruiting and registering patients.

Jones said the partnerships between the company and the communities are the reason for the program’s success. “Our part is a dedicated, compassionate staff that spends 40 weeks of the year living on the road to help kids. They’re our heroes.”

The other part, Jones said, is the people in the communities who make sure kids in need get care, “They do a lot of advance work, from the initial ask for us to come through all the paperwork to helping us host our patients. They’re true champions for kids.”

The Mobile Program began in 2004 with the Care Mobile in partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities. The demand for its services prompted the purchase of a second truck, the Smile Mobile, in 2008.  The two current trucks – Molar 1 & Molar 2 – began service in 2017.

Each truck is 40 feet long with two dental operatories to treat patients with preventive, diagnostic and restorative care. A dental care team travels with each truck, including a dentist, hygienist, 2 dental assistants and a coordinator.

Learn more about the Mobile Program and see where the trucks are located each week at www.deltadentalsd.com/mobileprogram