Bulletin of Dental Education

NYU College of Dentistry Celebrates New Dental Van

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NYU College of Dentistry’s (NYU Dentistry) mobile dental van program—“Smiling Faces, Going Places”—has introduced its new dental van, funded by the New York City Council. The van travels the five boroughs to bring quality dental care and education to New York City children and seniors at no cost to patients.

“Our ‘dental office on wheels’ fills a critical need in New York City, making oral health care more accessible to underserved communities,” says Andrew Schenkel, D.M.D., Director of Community-based Dental Education at NYU Dentistry. “We are grateful to the City Council for its continued support of our mobile dental van program and enabling us to bring healthy smiles to thousands of New Yorkers each year.”

“As Chair of the Hospitals Committee, funding mobile care programs that provide routine and primary care services to New Yorkers directly in their communities has always been a priority for me, particularly for dentistry. Whether you need flexible office hours or locations, or an affordable care option, these mobile vans play an important part in our city’s expanding and changing health care infrastructure,” says Councilwoman Carlina Rivera.

Since 2000, NYU Dentistry's mobile dental van program has been an important oral health resource for New York City children, providing quality dental care and education to thousands of kids at schools and childcare centers in partnership with the New York City Council. In 2016, the program expanded its scope to bring dental care to underserved seniors living in the five boroughs.

“Our mobile care program is designed to reduce the barriers to accessing dental care by bringing care directly to those in need. This includes children, whose parents might otherwise have to take off work to bring them to the dentist, as well as older New Yorkers who may have difficulty getting around or may have other medical issues,” says Constance Robinson-Turner, manager of NYU Dentistry’s mobile dental care program.

The new “Smiling Faces, Going Places” van began making visits to partner organizations in New York City in September 2018. The van and its team—including experienced dentists, dental students, and other health care professionals—spend three days a week focused on caring for children and two days a week caring for older adults. Operating year-round, the van visits public schools, childcare centers, senior centers, community centers, and health fairs to treat roughly 2,000 New Yorkers each year.

The new van features two dental chairs and an open layout that allows more flexibility than the previous van, including increased ease of access for visitors in wheelchairs. Dental services provided include examinations and radiographs; preventive services such as cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants, and oral hygiene instruction; and fillings and simple tooth extractions.

NYU Dentistry’s original mobile dental van, which traveled the five boroughs and beyond from 2000 through 2018, was donated to New Greater Bethel Ministries in Queens and will provide dental services in underserved communities throughout Ghana.

Courtesy of Rachel Harrison, Senior Public Affairs Officer, New York University

Published on April 10, 2019

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