CLEVELAND, Ohio– Finding quality dental care for seniors has just gotten a little bit easier, thanks to Case Western Reserve University’s mobile geriatric dentistry program, “Lifelong Smiles.”
Coordinated by the School of Dental Medicine at Case, the mobile program is located within FirstEnergy Corp.’s Northeast Ohio service territory.
For the past seven years, Lifelong Smiles has helped address disparities for Cleveland-area seniors by providing access to dental care for those who either lack transportation or insurance for oral health care.
Securing sufficient insurance coverage for quality dental care isn’t always easy, and many seniors have to let their dental work take a back seat. This program provides direct access to dental care to the affordable oral care they so desperately need.
“These seniors are so appreciative of the services we provide,” said Suparna Mahalaha, assistant professor of community dentistry and director of Case Western Reserve University’s geriatric dental program, in a recent statement. “What we offer them, they give back to our students tenfold with lessons in hands-on care and compassion.”
To date, the program has helped more than 250 Cleveland seniors since it launched back in 2015.
While the Lifelong Smiles’ 38-foot mobile dental van resembles an RV, it has been converted into a high-tech dental office on wheels, offering its patients fully functioning dental chair stations, office space, digital X-rays, and even a wheelchair lift.
Third and fourth-year dental students are in charge of the day-to-day operations. Through their clinical geriatric rotation, the students provide dental care, assess patients, and discuss overall treatment plans with students of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and social work, all within Case Western Reserve University.
Thanks to a $100,000 FirstEnergy Foundation grant, through the company’s “Investing with Purpose” initiative, Lifelong Smiles will be able to expand its services to improve the health and well-being of underserved seniors in Northeast Ohio.
“The Lifelong Smiles program reflects FirstEnergy’s core values of diversity, equity and inclusion, and stewardship,” said Lorna Wisham, president of the FirstEnergy Foundation, in a recent statement. “We’re honored to support this program that benefits so many local seniors and health care professionals in training.”