Dental Van opens Tuesday

— There are more than 400 children in Moffat County who are eligible for the Children's Health Plan one of the groups targeted by Kids in Need of Dentistry as children who are not getting sufficient dental care.

Through funding from Blue Cross Blue Shield and with organization by the Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition, Kids in Need of Dentistry (K.I.N.D.) will provide a mobile dental office to underserved children on the Western Slope. The dental van used for the "Miles for Smiles" program will be in Craig on Tuesday and will stay for a month in an attempt to get services to uninsured children in Moffat County. Currently, the van will only serve children who are uninsured and not covered by medicaid. Children enrolled in CHP+, WIC or Headstart automatically qualify. Others will have to apply to see if they meet specifications.

Dental Coalition Coordinator Betty Baldozier is taking appointments at 824-8233. The interest in receiving dental care is so great that the van is already fully booked for the first two days it will be here and the third day is filling quickly.

The van will be in Craig until Sept. 24 and then will move on to other areas of the Western Slope before returning to Craig after the first of the new year.

The van is 36-feet and is equipped with two dental chairs and full services. It has an X-ray station, a laboratory and dental sterilization equipment. Services will be provided by a K.I.N.D. staff dentist and dental assistant who travel with the van as well as volunteer dentists from each community.

It was built to target children up to age 18 who fall through the cracks between public assistance and private dental insurance.

Children covered by Medicaid are not yet eligible because K.I.N.D. considers Medicaid a form of insurance.

Children who are eligible for the program are from families without dental insurance or defined as persons with an income that exceeds the allowable limits for Medicaid enrollment and is below 185 percent of the federal poverty level.

The program will provide low-cost comprehensive dental services, as well as dental education for children and their families and launch a public information campaign to increase awareness of issues of oral health neglect in underserved populations in Colorado.

According to Baldozier, the van will participate in community health awareness activities such as health fairs and school health education campaigns.

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