Wichita Mobile Dental Clinic Brings Smiles

“The homeless population in the United States is one of great diversity that continues to increase in number. Although data on the oral health status of individuals who are homeless is limited, studies consistently report both the perception and clinical evidence of dental needs among this population as well as a low utilization rate for dental services.” -TB King (Oral health needs and access to dental care of homeless adults in the United States).

The needs of the homeless are numerous and often undocumented. The statistics on the number of homeless in the US are in constant flux and the health care issues they suffer go untreated and unrecorded. Often homeless men and women go to the ER and receive minimal care or stop in a clinic where they are shuffled through so the next patient can be seen. This is not always the case; there are exceptions, and the Mobile Dental Clinic in Wichita, Kansas, is one.

Jim, a homeless patient, came to the Mobile Dental Clinic after leaving the Emergency Room. He had been in twice for the same problem—an infection in his mouth that continued to get worse. The ER had administered round after round of antibiotics for two months with no improvement. Jim was in pain and needed the problem-causing tooth to be pulled. His oral health needs actually exceeded that one tooth, and the Mobile Dental Clinic dentist proceeded to extract several infected teeth. Jim later returned to meet Dr. Chris Majors, a volunteer dentist who offered follow-up work like cleanings and x-rays at no cost.

The care Jim received was a combination of the services and accessibility of the Mobile Dental Clinic, as well as the spirit and generosity of the volunteer providers who choose to serve Jesus with their time. Because of this, men like Jim see love expressed in a tangible way.