2016-2017 School Year Wrap-up
Amanda Rice, D.M.D, Tooth Taxi Dentist
Happy end of the school year from the Tooth Taxi team as we launch into the summer season. The summer is a great time for the Tooth Taxi team to focus our efforts in the Portland metro and surrounding communities after a year travel to our state’s most rural regions. Since our last issue, we have completed site visits to Gearhart, Tillamook, Vida, North Bend, Oregon City and Centennial School districts. It's been a busy Spring!
On the Tooth Taxi, we pride ourselves in the delivery of quality care in the most fun and enjoyable environment. Many children have never seen a dentist, and going for the first time without the presence of a parent can be difficult. That is why we are so fortunate to have the support of teachers and staff at our site visits who adjust schedules or monitor multiple classrooms to be present during appointments for those who require special attention. We even had a teacher call for a substitute for two hours so she could sit bedside with her students during the appointment. Their helpful hand and voice while in the treatment room allows our team to provide the needed dental care for children who would have otherwise struggled.
The memorable case of a young 7 year old boy we treated in Tillamook is the perfect example of the teamwork we foster. The first time I've heard of a suicidal 7 year old, was during this visit in early Spring when a shy child was escorted by his counselor to the Tooth Taxi. He was too shy to sit in the chair for an exam, but while being shown different parts of the RV, we recognized immediate excitement after he was shown the movies playing in the operatories. After having lost his mother last year, the child was struggling to cope with everyday life. Most days, he was unable to stay through a whole school day and usually ended up seeing counselors for majority of the class period. Also to the dismay of his teachers, the child was battling a chronic toothache, that brought him home early from field trips - becoming an added burden in the young child's life.
It took several visits for the child to get acquainted with the Tooth Taxi, but with patience and the help of the counselor, we were able to not only have the child sit in the chair, but extract the symptomatic tooth. Diligence paid off. Our treatment was minimal, but our impact life-changing. After the appointment, the child recovered in our clinic for the rest of the morning, beaming with pride. The principal later that day notified us that not only did the child stay the entire day at school, but that he didn’t require the company of a counselor before parent pick-up. How fortunate we feel to make such an impact and have such memorable experiences to look back upon.
Thank you counselors, teachers and staff who go above and beyond becoming a child's biggest and only advocate. And thank you to our sponsors, donors and friends who help ensure our mission continues with your generous support.
Holcomb Elementary - Oregon City, Gearhart Elementary - Gearhart, Liberty Elementary - Tillamook
The Tooth Taxi started off the month of May with a first time visit to Holcomb Elementary in Oregon City. Soon after we arrived several staff members approached us regarding a fourth grader who had been complaining of dental pain and could we please make sure we see him. They worked with his family to get paperwork completed and when I went to get him for his appointment his teacher was clearly overjoyed that I was there. This boy had only one cavity but that one cavity had created a large hole in his tooth and every day at school when he ate snack or lunch he got food packed in it causing the tooth to ache. Dr. Rice was able to extract this UN-restorable baby tooth on the spot and put an end to the ongoing dental pain this student had been experiencing.
The following week we headed to the coast where we had the pleasure to once again work with Health Specialist Carolyn Wells to bring dental care to the students at Gearhart Elementary as well as include 7 students from Seaside High School. Today when I sat down at my desk there was a letter from Carolyn thanking us for the care we provided her students and a letter from a 5th grader named April thanking us for extracting her tooth. April had a permanent molar with extensive decay that was waking her up at night and causing her pain at school. Two fillings and a difficult extraction later this brave girl was nothing but grateful to have had her teeth taken care of and to no longer worry about her mouth hurting her.
After Gearhart the Tooth Taxi traveled further south along the coast to Tillamook where our Executive Director Jacki Gallo joined Dr. Rice and Saje for the week at Liberty Elementary. Jacki got to experience life on the road and jumped right in to learn some assisting skills. This school only has Pre-K thru 1st grade and the entire team enjoyed interacting with this group and embraced the special energy they bring with them.
At the end of the month we headed back to Earl Boyles Elementary, a Portland school in the David Douglas School District. Here again we got the opportunity to interact with the Pre-K kids. One afternoon as I entered a Pre K classroom to get a student for treatment I found the class sitting on the floor talking about jobs, so their teacher asked me to join their circle and tell the class about my job. The kids were all great listeners and who knows, maybe one or two of them will choose a career in the dental field someday.
Annalisa Smith DMD
Linh Tran DMD
April 2017 Klamath Falls and Chilloquin Southern Oregon
Amanda Rice, D.M.D, Tooth Taxi Dentist
The Tooth Taxi team is back in Portland after a fulfilling two week stay in Southern Oregon providing services to the Klamath county school district. A remote and scenic region several miles north of the California border, the city of Klamath and Chiloquin offered new opportunities to explore a diverse community and provide dental care to many appreciative families. The hospitality of staff, dedicated volunteers and the joyfully cooperative students, allowed our team to make impactful change in the lives of many children.
A highly productive visit, the Tooth Taxi examined and treated children with some of the highest need seen this year. Treatment hours were spent alleviating many grade schoolers from oral pain, chronic infection and severe cases of rampant decay.
The results after a week of treatment were dramatic. During the site visit children would come on-board for return appointments to exclaim how much better they felt after being relieved from dental discomfort. “ I don’t have pain anymore!" exclaimed 4th grader Dakota when she was escorted onto the Tooth Taxi for her second visit. The smile and joy on her face will never be forgotten. She couldn't wait to have "more teeth fixed."
We have the ability on the Tooth Taxi to change lives. We are empowered by experiences and encounters, such as Dakota's, to continue our mission. Thank you to our dedicated sponsors, donors, friends and volunteers who make our mission possible.
Cloverdale, Nestucca Valley Elementary
January 30 - February 10, 2017
The Tooth Taxi recently spent almost two weeks in the small coastal town of Cloverdale at Nestucca Valley Elementary. Small towns like this one often turn into some of my favorite visits. The sense of community here is genuine and staff at the school really seem to know and have a connection with each student. Barbara Daggett, the office manager, was a huge help to us throughout our visit.
With over half of the kids screened needing treatment there was no shortage of work for us to do. However, three siblings at the school had been identified as not having dental insurance and also had a history of difficulty accessing care. We started with Ruby, age 7, who had multiple teeth that were severely decayed and broken causing her pain. With her families support we were able to extract 4 primary teeth, provide 2 fillings and a crown. We also completed much needed work on her older sister, who was also experiencing dental pain and her younger brother. At the end of our visit this family received over $3,000 dollars in care for their kids that they may not have otherwise have been able to get done.
During our second week, the team made a quick stop at Nestucca Valley Jr/Sr High where they screened additional students who had signed up for services and then worked with the school and parents to transport kids to us at the elementary school. One young lady had a pretty amazing transformation involving her smile. .
This trip was also a milestone for our program in that the Tooth Taxi exceeded the six-million dollar mark in care provided since its inception in 2008. It is the combined effort of so many that allows us to accomplish so much. To all of you that have helped along the way, thank you!
Turner, Oregon Cascade School District
January 10 - 20
With a steady flow of late starts and school cancellations to say that Jack Frost has kept us on our toes so far this winter is an understatement. After some unexpected delays, I'm happy to report that the Tooth Taxi kicked off the New Year by heading just South of Salem to the Cascade School District, where we were able to work with the district to serve kids at three different elementary schools. We were fortunate to have return volunteer assistant Kristin Holen join us for a day. She was able to jump right in and help Dr. Rice to ease the apprehension of a few of our patients, allowing them to have a positive experience and leave with a smile on their face. Even with the loss of treatment days due snow and ice the team was still able to screen 106 students and provide almost $27,000 in care.
Kristin Holen, EFDA
September 2008 - January 20, 2017
• 18,303 students screened
• 19,351 students received oral hygiene education in the classroom
• 10,338 appointments in the van
• $5,971,895 value of free dental care provided