‘Smiling Faces, Going Places’ Program Rolls into 19th Year with New Van Funded by New York City Council

NYU College of Dentistry’s mobile dental van, "Smiling Faces, Going Places”
NYU College of Dentistry’s mobile dental van, "Smiling Faces, Going Places” © NYU Photo Bureau: Roemer

NYU College of Dentistry’s mobile dental van program—"Smiling Faces, Going Places”—has introduced its new dental van, funded by the New York City Council. The van travels the five boroughs to bring quality dental care and education to New York City children and seniors at no cost to patients.

“Our ‘dental office on wheels’ fills a critical need in New York City, making oral health care more accessible to underserved communities,” said Andrew Schenkel, DMD, director of community-based dental education at NYU Dentistry. “We are grateful to the City Council for its continued support of our mobile dental van program and enabling us to bring healthy smiles to thousands of New Yorkers each year.”

“As Chair of the Hospitals Committee, funding mobile care programs that provide routine and primary care services to New Yorkers directly in their communities has always been a priority for me, particularly for dentistry. Whether you need flexible office hours or locations, or an affordable care option, these mobile vans play an important part in our city’s expanding and changing healthcare infrastructure,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera.

Since 2000, NYU College of Dentistry's mobile dental van program has been an important oral health resource for New York City children, providing quality dental care and education to thousands of kids at schools and childcare centers all over the city in partnership with the New York City Council. In 2016, the program expanded its scope to bring dental care to underserved seniors living in the five boroughs.

“Our mobile care program is designed to reduce the barriers to accessing dental care by bringing care directly to those in need. This includes children, whose parents might otherwise have to take off work to bring them to the dentist, as well as older New Yorkers who may have difficulty getting around or may have other medical issues,” said Constance Robinson-Turner, manager of NYU Dentistry’s mobile dental care program.

The new “Smiling Faces, Going Places” van began making visits to partner organizations in New York City in September 2018. The van and its team—including experienced dentists, dental students, and other healthcare professionals—spend three days a week focused on caring for children and two days a week caring for older adults.  Operating year-round, the van visits public schools, childcare centers, senior centers, community centers, and health fairs to treat roughly 2,000 New Yorkers each year.

The new van features two dental chairs and an open layout that allows for more flexibility than the previous van, including increased ease of access for visitors in wheelchairs. Dental services provided include examinations and X-rays; preventive services such as cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants, and oral hygiene instruction; and fillings and simple tooth extractions.

NYU Dentistry will celebrate the new “Smiling Faces, Going Places” van at an open house cohosted by Councilwoman Rivera and the New York City Council:

  • Date: Friday, February 22, 2019
  • Time: 3:30 – 5:00 pm
  • Location: NYU College of Dentistry, 345 E. 24th Street (at First Avenue), New York, NY
  • Media contact: Rachel Harrison, rachel.harrison@nyu.edu, 212-998-6797

Tours of the van, as well as NYU Dentistry’s new Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities, will be available at the event.

NYU Dentistry’s original mobile dental van, which traveled the five boroughs and beyond from 2000 through 2018, was donated to New Greater Bethel Ministries in Queens to provide dental services in underserved communities throughout Ghana.

About NYU College of Dentistry
Founded in 1865, New York University College of Dentistry (NYU Dentistry) is the third oldest and the largest dental school in the US, educating nearly 10 percent of our nation’s dentists. NYU Dentistry has a significant global reach with a highly diverse student body. Visit http://dental.nyu.edu for more.