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Over the past 25 years, dental services have been the most commonly funded service in this category. For example, Dental Lifeline Network–Illinois’ volunteer dentists offer free comprehensive oral healthcare to people who are older, medically fragile and/or disabled. To avoid the cost of overhead, care is provided in the volunteers’ offices, and dental labs and manufacturers provide services and materials at no cost. The program is in high demand: since 1990 it has coordinated more than $24 million in donated oral health treatment to over 7,000 Illinoisans.
Mobile dental services like those provided by Advocate’s Mobile Dental Program (MDP) have also been supported by VNA. Operated from Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center Department of Dentistry, the MDP travels to community-based partner sites where it provides preventive and restorative care to children, seniors, persons with disabilities, and homeless persons who lack access to dental services. In addition, by providing exposure to underserved populations the MDP offers a valuable public health learning experience for the dental students and residents that staff the van. Outcomes measured by the program are consistently strong, with improvements in patient-rated oral health status and quality of life, and clinically observed reductions in dental disease.