Providence helps bring dental care to those in need

One grateful patient had five extractions that he delayed for years because he couldn't afford it. Another man's dental situation was so dire there was no other option – 17 teeth had to be pulled. A little girl was so brave during her dental visit that she held the hand of nervous schoolmates while they visited the dentist, some for the first time.

All these patients and thousands more know firsthand how the dental van can make a difference. The van rumbles along mile by mile to Providence hospitals in Oregon, setting up shop in ER parking lots. The program is staffed by one Medical Teams International clinic manager and volunteer dentists.

The dental van is small, but it performs miracles by the mile. It also helps reduce overcrowding in local ERs and provides specialized care to those in need.

Andrew Hensley is an unemployed drywall contractor and a new patient at the dental van. He's feeling pain from a cavity in his wisdom tooth. Volunteer dentist Dr. Jacob Morrow helps him save the tooth.

Krista Handy, van manager, also travels to local schools to provide preventive care to children whose family can't afford dental care. Krista works her magic to help put the kids at ease.

"It's very rewarding when they leave with a smile, despite what you just put them through," she says.