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Using an RV for mobile dentistry, Smiles Across Montana reaches underprivileged areas



Bozeman, Montana – A nonprofit organization called Smiles Across Montana works to improve underprivileged areas while giving MSU students invaluable practical experience. They just added a mobile dentistry unit to their list of services.

“Your oral health directly affects your overall health,” says Crystal Spring, executive director of Smiles Across Montana.

Spring has long been associated with dental health. She adds that oral health has an impact on conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and even preterm deliveries. Your entire body will not be healthy if your mouth isn’t.

According to Spring, patients can now receive dental care much more easily with this mobile device.

“There’s just not enough room in facilities to house us. And we’re able to just pull up right in front and serve people,” she says.

Nursing students from MSU are also participating and acquiring new skills, such as using inter-oral cameras on patients.

Spring says, “They’re not just looking in their mouth to the back of their throat, they’re able to look with the camera. If they find something, they can take a picture of it and send it to a dental professional.”

By combining dentistry with primary care, Smiles Across Montana is attempting to expand the spectrum of dental care.

“I want dental professionals to look at themselves as part of the health team because that is essentially what we are,” she states.

Spring also says the team can help those underserved and without insurance through the help of grants: “There are a lot of people going without services because they don’t have insurance or can’t afford it.”

The nonprofit is also employing non-traditional methods of dentistry, such as the less intrusive treatment of cavities with silver diamine fluoride.

“We want to do whatever we can to keep kids from having to be sedated for dentistry. So, prevention [is key],” says Spring.

To assist those in the community who lack access to dental care, Crystal and her team seek to further expand Smiles Across Montana’s services.

“It’s just listening to people and playing fair. And at the end of the day, wanting more for your communities and your patients than for yourself,” Spring says.


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