BOZEMAN — Smiles Across Montana is a nonprofit, helping underserved communities and providing MSU students with valuable hands-on experience. Recently they’ve expanded their care with a mobile dentistry unit.
“Your oral health directly affects your overall health," says Crystal Spring, executive director of Smiles Across Montana.
Spring has been promoting dental health for years. And she says diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and even pre-term births of babies are affected by mouth health. If your mouth isn’t healthy, the rest of your body won’t be either.
Spring says this mobile unit makes accessing dental care much easier for patients.
“There’s just not enough room in facilities to house us. And we’re able to just pull up right in front and serve people," she says.
MSU nursing students are also on board, learning new techniques, including using inter-oral cameras on their patients.
Spring says, “They’re not just looking in their mouth to the back of their throat, they’re able to look with the camera. If they find something, they can take a picture of it and send it to a dental professional."
Smiles across Montana is also trying to broaden the scope of dental work, integrating it with primary care professionals.
“I want dental professionals to look at themselves as part of the health team because that is essentially what we are,” she states.
Spring also says the team can help those underserved and without insurance through the help of grants: “There are a lot of people going without services because they don’t have insurance or can’t afford it."
The non-profit is also using different approaches to dentistry, including silver diamine fluoride, a less invasive way of healing cavities.
“We want to do whatever we can to keep kids from having to be sedated for dentistry. So, prevention [is key],” says Spring.
Crystal and her team hope that Smiles Across Montana will be able to further expand their services, to help those in the community going without dental care.
“It’s just listening to people and playing fair. And at the end of the day, wanting more for your communities and your patients than for yourself," Spring says.