Coalition prepares for second dental van visit

With remnants of Christmas candy still on children's teeth, parents will be glad to know the Miles for Smiles dental van will soon be in the area.

The van will be in Craig Jan. 24 to begin seeing patients. It will be in Steamboat Springs and Hayden Jan. 17 and 18 for a demonstration because those communities have not raised the funds to keep the van on site to see patients.

Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition Coordinator Betty Baldozier said she is not yet taking appointments, but knows there will be a lot of interest.

"It'll be very easy to fill all appointments up fast," she said.

The van was in Craig for its first visit in August and September and 134 Moffat County children and eight Routt and Rio Blanco County children received services. Dental services are given at a reduced price to those who meet income qualifications. More than $37,000 in services were provided at a cost of $3,938 to the patients. That's an average cost of $28 per child.

The Miles for Smiles Dental Van is organized by the Denver, Colo., group Kids in Need of Dentistry and is funded through Blue Cross Blue Shield in an effort to provide dental care for uninsured children. The van was brought to Craig by the Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition.

According to Baldozier, the coalition was formed in 1997 as a result of community concern about lack of dental care for Medicaid, low income and indigent clients.

The mobile dental van provides comprehensive dental services including screenings, X-rays, exams, treatment plans, fluoride treatments, sealants and emergency care. Children whose families are within 185 percent of the federal poverty level and do not have insurance are eligible.

The goal of the coalition is to provide dental services to adults and children with Medicaid because there are few dentists in Northwest Colorado who take Medicaid patients.

"I've had so many adults calling me and I have no options for them," Baldozier said.

According to Baldozier, the Care Clinic staff at The Memorial Hospital is researching a grant for adding dental care at the Care Clinic. The dental coalition hopes to collaborate with their efforts.

Anyone who wants to schedule a dental van appointment for their child must first pick up an eligibility form at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.

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