The Clarity Healthcare Smiles on the Go program has been improving the quality of life for children in northeast Missouri one smile at a time. Now, in its fifth year of operation, they have a new tool at their disposal — a mobile dental truck.

The Clarity Healthcare Smiles on the Go program has been improving the quality of life for children in northeast Missouri one smile at a time. Now, in its fifth year of operation, they have a new tool at their disposal — a mobile dental truck.

The Freightliner M2, essentially a dental office on wheels, will be traveling to at least 17 schools and Head Start programs in the coming months, according to Clarity Dental Hygienist Lindsay Anderson.

The truck includes three dental exam areas, x-ray equipment, including a full panoramic x-ray machine, sterilization equipment, and fun aquarium decor designed to make going to the dentist a little more fun. The truck will be staffed with a dentist, two dental hygienists, and two assistants. The dental team will offer exams, x-rays, cleanings, fluoride applications and sealants, as well as restorative services, such as fillings, crowns and extractions.

The Freightliner has four slide-outs and provides more than 390 square feet of clinic space.

Clarity has been providing dental services in the schools since 2014. Anderson said they began the program by offering free dental screenings, but as they saw the need for more services, they began offering restorative services as well. The mobile dental truck will make their jobs more efficient. Instead of transporting their dental equipment in to each school and setting it up, the dental team now has everything they need ready to go on the truck.

Any student who is on Medicaid or is uninsured and a part of the school’s free/reduced lunch program is eligible for the dental services.

Anderson said bringing dental services to the schools helps address some of the financial, transportation and time barriers that keep some underserved populations from accessing dental care.

“If a child has abscessed teeth and is in pain, it can be very detrimental to their ability to focus in the classroom and learn, not to mention the importance of a healthy smile to a child’s confidence level,” she said.

The Clarity Smiles on the Go program has completed more than 500 dental visits to more than 400 individual children so far in the 2018-2019 school year. Their coverage area includes schools located in Marion, Monroe, Montgomery, Pike and Ralls counties. Anderson said they plan to complete 1,200 school dental visits in this year.

In addition to schools and Head Start facilities, the Clarity Dental Truck will also provide services at health departments, and plans to expand their services to nursing homes in the near future.

Anderson said they will also be able to use the truck to provide teledentistry services, which will allow a patient to receive services when the patient is in one physical location and the dentist overseeing the delivery of those services is in another location. For example, a dental hygienist might take x-rays and photos of the patient, which the dentist will review from another location and develop a treatment plan. The hygienist is able to provide cleanings, sealants and fluoride treatments for these patients.

Clarity Healthcare, which operates clinics in Hannibal, and Quincy, Ill., is a Federally Qualified Health Center offering primary care, dental and behavioral health services throughout northeast Missouri and eastern Illinois. For more information on Clarity services, call 573-603-1460 in Hannibal, or 217-222-6277 in Quincy, or visit clarity-healthcare.org .