The Smile Express is coming to town.
Next month, the Erie County Health Department will bring a mobile dental clinic twice a month to provide low-cost dental care to local families.
The Smile Express -- a dentist's office inside a vehicle the size of bus -- will park on health department property twice a month, said Mary Dennis, director of community health for the Erie County Health Department.
Care will be offered to people with inadequate insurance, no dental insurance at all or those who receive care from Medicaid. Patients not eligible for Medicaid will pay low fees based on a sliding scale, Dennis said.
The Smile Express, run by the Dental Center of Northwest Ohio, is able to handle 26 to 30 patients each day. Patients will be asked to call a toll-free number to make appointments. Details of the service, such as the first day it will be offered, are still being arranged, Health Commissioner Peter Schade told Erie County commissioners Thursday.
"This is going to be really important for elderly people," Dennis said.
Poor oral health is linked to other health problems, such as heart disease, she said.
Use of the Smile Express is considered "one step in the right direction," Dennis said.
Schade has said that one day he'd like to have a permanent dental clinic at the health department to handle the unmet dental needs of the uninsured and poor in the area.
In other health department news, Schade told the commissioners he is drafting regulations that would make it mandatory for pet owners in Erie County to inoculate dogs, cats and ferrets against rabies.
The Department of Agriculture estimates that raccoons with rabies, currently a problem in northeast Ohio, will arrive in Erie County by 2009, Schade said.