Mobile Dental Clinic parks at School of Dentistry for open house

Allysha Comer holds the door open to the Mobile Dental Clinic for a DDS student

The School of Dentistry hosted an open house for the Mobile Dental Clinic on Tuesday, September 5. 

Mobile Dental Clinic bus parked outside Moos Tower

Owned by UCare and operated by the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, the Mobile Dental Clinic provides primary and preventative dental care services to pediatric, adult and senior populations, as well as patients with special needs. The clinic supports and assists UCare members in finding a dental home. The 83-foot, wheelchair accessible space is entirely mobile and features three dental chairs. It regularly visits fifteen sites throughout Minnesota, and functions as an Outreach opportunity for dental, dental therapy and dental hygiene students. 

The clinic’s mission is “to provide quality dental care to patients who are otherwise underserved, and to provide a unique and hands-on experience for our students,” according to Assistant Director and Clinic Manager Allysha Comer.

DDS students explore the Mobile Dental Clinic

Students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to tour the clinic on campus. They learned about the clinic’s mission and operation, while also enjoying treats from local BIPOC-owned businesses. 

The event featured coffee from Makwa Coffee, a Native-owned coffee shop in Roseville, sweets from Lutunji’s Palate, a Black-owned social enterprise and bakery, and cookies from the Cookie Cart, an organization that encourages young people to develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills. 

Attendees were impressed by the size and impact of the clinic, which can fully serve three patients at a time. 

DDS students talk with Outreach staff

This is exactly what clinic staff hoped would happen when they brought the clinic to campus. “It was so important for people to see the clinic in person, to clear up any misconceptions they might have had. And it’s just a really cool thing to see in person!,” reflected Comer, assistant. “I hope after today, students, faculty and staff have a better idea of how we operate and how many communities we serve—communities that wouldn’t otherwise have access to dental care.” 

Michael Henderson, DDS ’17 and director of the Mobile Dental Clinic, agreed. “For me, bringing the Mobile Dental Clinic to the school gave us the opportunity to showcase the clinic, how the program functions and build community within the School of Dentistry,” he said. “Most importantly though, a chance to highlight our amazing staff whose efforts bring care to our patients as well as education to our students.” 

Angie Hastings, DMD, director of the Division of Outreach and Community Engagement, valued the opportunity to showcase the great work of the clinic to community members.

"This alternative care model allows dental, dental therapy, and dental hygiene students to gain a deeper understanding of the barriers to care their communities face and how bringing care to patients can provide a solution to these issues," she said. "Our unique partnership with UCare has provided thousands of patients the opportunity to access dental care who previously struggled to find a dental home. The hard work of our Mobile Dental Clinic staff, faculty, and student providers is something worth celebrating!"

Click on the image above to see additional photos from the day.