Oregon’s Tooth Taxi: Bringing Dentists & Uninsured Children Together

Tooth TaxiWith all the debate in recent months about health care, it’s easy to become jaded about the current state of our system. People on either side of the fence on Obamacare battle it out over news shows, radio broadcasts and blogs about who’s going to pay for this or whether universal health care is right, wrong or both. If you hear enough of all of this you just might lose faith in the whole system but every once in a while you hear about something that renews faith in the system and in the philanthropic spirit of people.

The “tooth taxi” in Oregon is one such program, offering free dental services to children. This 38-foot mobile bus serves as a traveling dental office, staying a week at a time in cities all over Oregon.

Since its creation in 2008, it’s provided about 5,201 children with free dental care. It also educated 11,295 children in the areas it’s visited. The tooth taxi is a fully functioning dental office on wheels. It does everything from cleanings to fillings and could care less about insurance.

Mary Daly, the program manager of the tooth taxi says that these kids usually need a lot of work due to lack of insurance and lower incomes. The kids that don’t have insurance and also the kids with the most severe issues are seen first. Some of these services would have run the parents up to $9,000, although the dentists are volunteers and completely licensed professionals.

Who pays for all of this?

It’s all funded by donations, believe it or not. The tooth taxi is sponsored by the Dental Foundation of Oregon, the charitable arm of the Oregon Dental Association, along with the OEA Choice Trust. The OEA insures school district employees. Also helping in funding is the ODS, a company that provides professional liability insurance and other business services.

Tooth Taxi has supplied a staggering $3 million in donated dental care since 2008.

Dan Matthews DDS
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