12:00 PM

‘Miles of Smiles’ Mobile Dental Unit Gets Fueled by Grant Funding to Continue Free Care for Allentown School Children

It was smiles all around at Allentown’s Washington Elementary School as Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) and the Allentown School District (ASD) announced funding support for LVHN’s Miles of Smiles mobile dental unit. The Foundation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, through its “Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children,” initiative awarded LVHN a multi-year $375,000 grant to fund operations of the van, including all dental and office supplies, fuel and maintenance.

Miles of Smiles provides dental services to low-income, uninsured and underinsured children in the ASD throughout the academic year and during the summer. It is considered a “dental home,” an environment in which patients receive ongoing dental care and where they enjoy a trusting relationship with their dental providers. Staffing includes a dentist, dental hygienist and dental assistant, and a driver who doubles as a clerk.

The dental clinic measures 40 feet long by 9 feet wide and is outfitted with two fully equipped treatment rooms, a digital X-ray unit, a central sterilizing device, a registration area and a wheelchair lift.

LVHN has operated the Miles of Smiles dental clinic since April 2009, providing care to students Monday through Friday in four grade schools in Allentown that serve the most economically challenged populations: Central Elementary School, Sheridan Elementary School, Roosevelt Elementary School and Washington Elementary School.

Between April 2009 and June 2014, the Miles of Smiles care teams treated more than 6,700 low-income people, 98 percent of them children. No patient is charged for the oral services, and this charity care is valued at more than $2.1 million.

See media coverage: