Because good oral health habits are so crucial, the Community Health Center’s (CHC) mobile dental van continues to bring treatment to residents throughout Will County. Within the last year, two major things happened to help keep the mobile unit’s mission alive.
First, when the van needed a new driver, CHC employee Tammy Cleary took the initiative to get her CDL license. She is now not only the mobile dental van’s driver, but she also handles the scheduling.
Then, the CHC received a grant from the United Way to provide more dental services to the uninsured and underprivileged.
Various area schools (such as Rockdale, Elwood, Fairmont, Reed in Homer Glen) are currently on the van’s schedule. It also visits daycare centers, shelters, and rehab centers. All these places, Dr. Garg says, is where they find Will County residents, younger and older, who need
dental care the most.
For a child, it could possibly be their first ever trip to a dentist, especially if their family is new in the United States and still getting settled.
But when it comes to older patients, the situation can be even more serious.
“I have seen adults we’ve taken care of in the Mobile Dental Van, often middle-aged or older, who do not remember their last visit to the dentist," Garg said in a news release.
"One adult patient had tarter buildup so badly that I could not see his actual teeth. He had not had a professional cleaning for over 30 years.”
(Above, mobile dental van driver Tammy Cleary (posing as the tooth fairy) makes a recent educational visit to the Early Learning Center in Joliet.