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Action for Dental Health

Dental Group Uses Mobile Clinic to Reach People in Rural Oregon

Dr. Cedric Ross Hayden

June 25, 2014

Ramiro Quero hadn’t visited a dentist in about five years when he started feeling pain in his mouth.

Living in a remote area near Eugene, Oregon, it was difficult for Mr. Quero, 22, to find dental care. To make matters more difficult, he didn’t have dental insurance.

“Growing up in Mexico, I took care of my teeth, but I didn’t really listen to the dentist,” he said.

Mr. Quero, a recent college graduate, was attending school in California and living with relatives in Fall Creek, Oregon, when he discovered Caring Hand to Mouth, a non-profit dental organization that utilizes a mobile clinic and is based in nearby Lowell.

Founded by Dr. Cedric Ross Hayden in 2007, Caring Hand to Mouth provides care to roughly 250 people each year in rural parts of the state. 

Dr. Hayden recently won the Republican primary election to the Oregon House of Representatives, beating out former Cottage Grove Mayor Gary Williams. No Democrat has filed to oppose Dr. Hayden in the November 2014 General Election.

Many of his patients, like Mr. Quero, live in geographically remote towns with populations of 5,000 or less. 

“We provide dental services for people who are below the federal poverty level, as well as children in need,” said Randy Meyer, the organization’s executive director. 

The mobile clinic has two rooms where dentists provide care, a room where dental staff sterilize equipment, a mechanical room, and a waiting room. Dr. Hayden’s team transports the clinic using a semi truck and unloads it using a hydraulic system. 

“We essentially made it a self-contained dental office, complete with its own generator to supply power,” said Mr. Meyer. 

The dental team travels between five communities in Lane and Douglas counties, visiting each town at least once every three months, ensuring that the patients have dental homes where they can receive regular treatment. 

The model of providing care is extremely successful, said Mr. Meyer, who noted that about 85 percent of people scheduled to see the dentist shows up for their appointment.

“I personally call everyone the day before their appointment,” he added.

Caring Hand to Mouth also has mobile dental unit in Micronesia that is staffed by volunteers who provide care for about 500 people annually.