Dental Work

Dental technicians Cindy Smith and Joyce Howson flank dentist Dr. Robert Beck earlier this week as he works on a patient inside the Elks Mobile Dental Unit. The unit is parked in the St. Clair Elks Lodge lot through next week.

The Elks Mobile Dental Unit has been keeping people from feeling down in the mouth for more than 50 years. And through next week, individuals in the St. Clair area and beyond can take advantage of the service, which provides for the dental needs of children and adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities throughout the state of Missouri.

The program, the major philanthropic project of the Missouri Elks, utilizes a 33-foot dental van. According to information from the Elks, it “brings accessible free dental services to the areas of the state that need it most.”

Truman Medical Center Lakewood provides administrative expertise to operate and coordinate the program.

“It’s a wonderful program that helps a lot of people,” St. Clair Elks Director Marc Beckman said while standing outside the unit parked in the local lodge’s parking lot at 35 E. North St. “The state of Missouri Department of Dental Health staffs the unit, and the Missouri Elks provides the equipment and the motor home.”

The unit that is stopped in St. Clair features two chairs, a dentist, and two dental technicians. Individuals in Franklin, Crawford, Gasconade, Jefferson, St. Charles, St. Louis, Warren and Washington counties may schedule appointments.

Individuals in extreme financial distress who have found it impossible to receive dental care anywhere else may also be eligible.

The Missouri Elks Benevolent Trust organization was incorporated in order to have a functioning group to operate the program. The officers, trustees, and board of management are elected from all Elks districts in Missouri.

Basic and routine dental treatments include X-rays, examinations, cleaning, fluoride treatments, fillings, routine extractions and referrals.

More than 100,000 residents have been served since the program’s inception. All services are provided at no cost to patients who qualify through income guidelines. Patient ages ranged from 6 to 80 years.

Last year, 1,000 patients used the dental unit program in Missouri. Services included 793 exams and 9,580 procedures. The estimated value of the procedures is $269,644.

For more information, contact John Dane, program director, at 816-404-6904.