Dentists on wheels provides care to kids in need

LYNNWOOD — Before last week, 12-year-old Kateara Utley had a phobia about going to the dentist.

After two visits with SmileMobile staff and volunteers, Kateara, a sixth-grader at Meadowdale Elementary School, has changed her outlook even after her teeth were pulled.

“They were really nice,” she said of the SmileMobile staff.

The SmileMobile program is funded through the Washington Dental Service Foundation, a nonprofit agency whose mission is to eliminate oral disease and improve overall health.

This dental office on wheels brings oral health care to students whose families struggle to provide their children with adequate dental care.

The program targets low-income areas with the least access to dental care and connects with the community and schools, clinic manager Rhonda Mannen said.

Families who don’t qualify for state assistance but don’t have insurance can fall through the cracks, Mannen said.

“If children don’t have good oral health care, it affects their overall health,” Mannen said.

If they can teach kids at a young age how to brush properly and to floss, it can prevent damage in the future. Some of the high-schoolers Mannen has treated showed signs of tooth decay.

SmileMobile parked at Cedar Valley Community School in Lynnwood earlier this month. In less than two weeks, they treated approximately 60 children. Local dentists, including Dr. Priscilla Wig and Dr. Ronald Cantu, volunteered to treat students, stepping in as host dentists.

Kateara’s father, Gerald Utley, said growing up he didn’t have access to dental care. He was grateful the staff’s demeanor eased his daughter’s fear of going to the dentist. During her visit, instead of talking about pulling teeth they used the less threatening term “wiggle out” and distracted her by seeing if she could count to 100 before her tooth was removed.

The SmileMoblie began working with the Edmonds School District in the 1990s. Initially, students who had no access to dental care qualified for the program. Students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches can get dental care from SmileMobile.

The first visit with the SmileMobile connects families with local dental providers and provides information about Medicaid, said Nancy Sutherland, the district’s head nurse.

“SmileMobile staff is dedicated, hard working and they persevere,” she said.

More in Local News

Man suspected of robbing Rite Aids

Mill Creek police released a sketch Monday evening of the suspect.

Teen charged with murder in shooting over car

A Lynnwood teen has been charged with second-degree murder for… Continue reading

Police looking for Lynnwood bank robber

The robber did not flash a weapon to the teller at a U.S. Bank.

Here’s how much property taxes will rise to pay for schools

The owner of a $350,000 home is looking at a property-tax hike of nearly $300 this year.

Everett man accused of causing his baby’s brain damage

He told police he shook his son to get him to stop crying, and the boy slipped out of his hands.

At one point she dropped out; now she’s graduation-bound

Anita Bradford-Diaz has had her share of setbacks, but they only seem to increase her motivation.

Employee threats caused lockdown at Arlington elementary

Arlington Police said all students and staff were.

Residents are helping turn Casino Road in a new direction

An initiative backed by a $700,000 grant goes to the community for solutions to the area’s challenges.

Man says he started deadly Everett fire as a ‘cry for help’

Police said he is homeless and lives with post-traumatic stress and other mental health problems.

Most Read