By Melody Finnemore
As the state faced a growing oral health care crisis in the mid-2000s, the Dental Foundation of Oregon’s Board of Directors envisioned a mobile dental clinic that could serve uninsured and underserved children in rural areas. They looked to similar models in other states while crafting a unique strategy that would make the Tooth Taxi a welcome sight in communities across the state.
Dr. Bill Ten Pas, current president of the foundation’s board, had worked in a mobile clinic in South Dakota and, along with Robert Gootee, knew the concept could work in Oregon, too. “Much of South Dakota is rural and so is Oregon; there was a problem with access to care, the same as Oregon; and they had a high number of children not receiving care and this allowed us to take the care to the children,” he said.
Dr. Weston Heringer Jr. was on the board of the DFO in the spring of 2008 and, as the conversation centered around who would staff it, he thought about how he was using his skills in pediatric dentistry.
Dr. Heringer, became the first Tooth Taxi dentist,
Developed in partnership with
OEA Choice Trust
, the Tooth Taxi provides screenings, cleanings, sealants, X-rays, fillings, minor oral surgery and oral health education. It is supported by donations from foundations, corporations and individuals, and by volunteers from the dental community and local schools who help identify children in need.
Since the launch of the Tooth Taxi the fall of 2008, it has visited more than
schools and sites across the state, serving more than
children while delivering more than
million in donated dental services. Thank you to our donors and grantors.