Miles of Smiles – Mobile Dental Clinic

Each day low-income families and individuals in Southern Indiana go without many of the basic things that we all need to survive – access to stable housing, fresh food, and transportation to name a few. But many in our community also lack access to affordable basic dental care.

In 2018, the Community Foundation’s unrestricted Community Impact Fund granted $15,000 to Graceland Baptist Church for Miles of Smiles, a mobile dental clinic that provides affordable and accessible basic dental care to Southern Indiana residents. Matched $1 for $1 by a fund held at the Foundation, the grant grew to $30,000 to assist with the annual operating cost for the Miles of Smiles van they use to reach low-income families and provide a service that many don’t have access to.

Marty Baker, Administrator for Miles of Smiles said, “Many low-income residents don’t have access to preventative dental care and are particularly vulnerable to health complications due to untreated tooth decay. The grant from the Community Foundation is helping us provide a valuable resource to our community, improving job prospects and quality of life by boosting self-esteem and overall health. “

Access to basic dental care is a leading cause of untreated tooth decay which can quickly lead to infections of the tip of a tooth’s root, more commonly known as an abscess. Low-income residents are particularly vulnerable to health complications from untreated tooth decay due to barriers they are ill-equipped to handle, such as complex insurance situations, financial shortcomings, and transportation issues. This lack of basic dental care leads many to seek emergency room services in order to treat conditions that could have easily been prevented with better access to basic dental services. Emergency room treatment of the uninsured is an increasing economic burden, both through government subsidy of hospitals that are left to cover the care of the uninsured, and the privately insured who continue to take on climbing insurance premiums as a direct response to hospitals charging more for their services to pay for the care of the uninsured.

So, when Graceland Baptist Church of New Albany, IN approached CFSI with a grant proposal to partner with them on Miles of Smiles , we turned to our Community Impact Fund for the resources to help get the project off the ground. Since 1991, CFSI has used our unrestricted Community Impact Fund to grant over $2.5 million to organizations serving the residents of Clark and Floyd counties. The Community Impact Fund provides resources that address the evolving needs of our region.

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