Miles for Smiles pays second visit to area

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The Miles for Smiles dental van is in Northwest Colorado for its second visit and geared to see patients. The van is in Craig and dentists began seeing patients today. The van is parked next to the mental health building on Breeze Street and will be here until Feb. 11.

During its month-long stay in Northwest Colorado, the van will also make stops in Meeker and Rangely.

The Miles for Smiles mobile dental clinic provides low-cost, comprehensive dental services to children who are not eligible for Medicaid those whose parents are working but cannot afford insurance. It is sponsored by Kids in Need of Dentistry and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Colorado.

The van was brought to Craig by the Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition. The coalition was formed in 1997 following community concern about lack of dental care for Medicaid, low-income and indigent people.

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 eventually provide dental services to adults and children with Medicaid, because there are few dentists who take Medicaid patients.

The dental van is coordinated by the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) in partnership with the dental coalition and has been popular since its first visit in August.

The van served 134 Moffat County children and eight children from Routt and Rio Blanco counties on its first visit. 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.

Those who are eligible are urged to contact the VNA as soon as possible.

"It'll be very easy to fill all appointments up fast," former dental coalition coordinator Betty Baldozier said.

Baldozier resigned as the coordinator and the dental coalition is looking for someone to fill the part-time position.

The van is scheduled to be in Meeker Feb. 14-17 and in Rangely Feb. 22-25 before moving to sites in Garfield County. The van will return to Craig in late July or August.

To make an appointment, or to determine if a child is eligible, call the VNA at 824-8233.

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