In 2016, 60 percent of Americans didn’t see the dentist. The problem gets worse in rural areas, and, if you’re poor, it gets even harder.
Between Glenwood Springs and Aspen, there aren't many dentists who will see Medicaid patients. Recently, however, Mountain Family Health brought a new dental office to El Jebel. It’s on wheels.
The waiting room feels like a waiting room, except it’s small. Then, there’s the detail that when dental office is moving from one location to the other, the staff can sit in the waiting room and buckle up.
Dr. Garry Millard is the dental director for Mountain Family Health Centers. The van is currently parked at the El Jebel Community Center will provide basic dental care to patients in the area. They won’t be able to do complex procedures, like crowns and bridges, but they will be able to fill cavities and clean teeth.
Millard says dental care is often overlooked. But it plays a key role in so many aspects of our health, like “cardiac health, incidents of stroke, and a number of other medical conditions,” he said.
The van has already served 35 patients in the past several days. It will be located at the El Jebel Community Center for the first 18 months. Then Mountain Family Health will get a brick and mortar building, at which point the van will travel to different schools.