Smile Spokane to offer free dental care

SPOKANE, Wash. - Organizations committed to improving oral health and overall health in Spokane County are combining efforts through a new local network to reduce health disparities for the most vulnerable people in the community.

The Spokane Oral Health Local Impact Network will coordinate and expand current efforts to improve health and well-being with a comprehensive set of strategies focused on preventing disease, transforming health care delivery and expanding access to care. The 3-year goal is to make significant progress on reducing health disparities in Spokane County.

“Through the LIN, we want to raise awareness that oral health is essential for overall health, and ensure that preventing disease and keeping people healthy is a community priority and an option, especially for those who are most vulnerable,” said Kristen West, Deputy Director, Arcora Foundation.  “We are aiming for a future in which preventing disease and getting people into preventive care early is the norm.”

Announcement of the LIN is occurring during Teeth Week, an annual event in Spokane that runs Oct. 6-15 this year.

According to the Spokane Regional Health District, over half of the children in the county have had cavities by the third grade. Nearly 12 percent of pre-school children and rampant decay (decay in 7 or more teeth) has increased across all ages.

In addition, 33 percent of adults in Spokane County do not have dental insurance and in 2015 alone, only 23.5 percent of Medicaid-insured adults in Spokane County accessed dental care.

“Oral disease and related health impacts are widespread and debilitating, and access to care is particularly difficult among communities of need, including the elderly and people with lower incomes,” said Torney Smith, Administrator, Spokane Regional Health District.  “To reduce oral health disparities, we have to take a holistic approach that starts with preventing oral disease in children and ensuring that adults who have oral disease have access to care.”

In conjunction with Teeth Week, access to care will be provided by the SmileMobile, which will offer no-cost dental services for adults on October 6-8 at The Salvation Army, 204 East Indiana Ave., Spokane.  

Appointments are reserved for adults with emergent dental care needs who do not have access to a dentist. To make an appointment call 509-904-7709 between the hours of 9:00 am and 4:00 pm, September 27-October 5.