Bringing Smiles to the Community

There are many people who are unable to receive proper healthcare because of inaccessibility due to financial burden and as well as the lack of transportation. Other obstacles include having language barrier, no health insurance, and the lack of knowledge about healthcare access. These factors limit the accessibility of vulnerable populations especially individuals living in poverty, people with disabilities, and the elderly to quality healthcare. 

Fortunately, the mobile dental program created by the non-profit organization, Medical Teams International, serve people who are 200% below federal poverty line and cannot afford dental care such as tooth extractions and filling. This organization consists of volunteer dental professionals that provide free to low-cost dental services for those in need. The Medical Teams International collaborates with other organizations and clinics including Providence Health & Services, Central Oregon Veteran Outreach, Because People Matter and many more. Mobile dental vans travel to shelters, schools, rural, and urban areas across Oregon to provide dental services and oral education to vulnerable populations.

Image Source: Medical Teams International

Every Thursday evenings, the Medical Teams International also hosts an event called Night Strike in partnership with Because People Matter where they offer dental care along with a haircut and a meal for the homeless population under the Burnside Bridge in Portland.

Not only the dental mobile van serves the homeless population, they also assist the elderly. A patient named Jillian showed up at a dental van and needed teeth extractions in order to receive her dentures. On the way to the mobile van, her car had broken down. The staff went out of their way to get an Uber to pick Jillian up and after providing dental services to her, they also paid the Uber to drive her back home. In a note Jillian had written for the Medical Teams International, she said “I am a low-income senior, and without the help of the Mobile Dental van, I couldn’t have taken care of my many denture problems...I am so thankful for their existence! Not only will I be able to eat properly, but I’ll be able to smile again, no longer ashamed of my teeth.”

Oral health is important as it affects an individual’s mental health. In a research study conducted by Coles and colleagues, it was found that depression in Scottish homeless population was related to dental health issues. Poor oral hygiene results to decaying and missing teeth which causes an individual to feel self-conscious and have dental anxiety. Not only the Medical Teams International assist disadvantaged populations with oral and preventative care, but they also improve people’s mental health by boosting their self-esteem.

To support the mobile dental program, visit Medical Teams International website and find out how you can get involved in helping out and seeing brighter smiles of the community!


Coles, E., Chan, K., Collins, J., Humphris, G. M., Richards, D., Williams, B., & Freeman, R. (2011). Decayed and missing teeth and oral-health-related factors: Predicting depression in homeless people. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 71(2), 108-112. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2011.01.004

Because People Matter. (n.d.). Night Strike is a Community Gathering. Retrieved from

Medical Teams International. (n.d.). Mobile Dental Program. Retrieved from