The New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry’s “Smiling Faces, Going Places” community outreach program now has a 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 healthcare more accessible to underserved communities,” said Andrew Schenkel, DMD, 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 health 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 healthcare infrastructure,” said councilwoman Carlina Rivera.
The mobile dental van program has been an important oral health resource for New York City children since 2000, NYU Dentistry says, providing quality dental care and education to thousands of kids at schools and childcare centers all over the city 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,” said Constance Robinson-Turner, manager of NYU Dentistry’s mobile dental care program.
The new van began visiting partner organizations in New York City in September 2018. The van and its team, including experienced dentists, dental students, and other healthcare professionals, spend three days a week 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 about 2,000 New Yorkers each year.
With two dental chairs, the new van’s open layout is designed for more flexibility than the previous van, including increased ease of access for visitors in wheelchairs. Services provided include examinations and x-rays, fillings and simple tooth extractions, and preventive services such as cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants, and oral hygiene instruction.
The van will be celebrated at an open house cohosted by Rivera and the New York City Council on Friday, February 22 from 3:30 to 5:00 pm at the NYU College of Dentistry, 345 E. 24th Street at First Avenue, in New York City. Tours of the van as well as of the school’s new Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities will be available.
NYU Dentistry’s original mobile van, which traveled the five boroughs and beyond from 2000 to 2018, was donated to New Greater Bethel Ministries in Queens to provide dental services in underserved communities throughout Ghana.