IDPH 125th


In 1966, the Department’s dental division converted a chest X-ray van into a mobile dental clinic to provide on-the-spot care to children in low-income or migrant families.

Funds for converting the van were obtained through the Migrant Farm Labor Act; thus the van was required to be utilized to provide dental treatments to migrants during the harvest season, which coincided with school vacation. The mobile clinic provided dental services to school children during the school year.

Patients’ eligibility for clinical attention was not formally restricted, but priority was given to low-income families. The children were screened by a school nurse or by local health department personnel prior to the arrival of the van. Final determination of patients to be treated was made by the department dentist assigned to the van.

The number of patients treated on an annual basis varied from 800 to 1,000, and approximately four dental procedures were performed on each patient. Treatment was restricted to diagnosis, oral hygiene, operative dentistry and minor oral surgery. Dental health education was emphasized.

Prior to the van’s arrival, IDPH staff met with local dentists, dental societies, school administrators and health departments to emphasize the van was not competing with local dental practitioners but rather was to be considered an adjunct to the practitioners.

The program was well accepted and, in late 1969, a new van was obtained and placed into service. This time, the type of funding did not restrict use and the van was utilized on a year- round basis to provide dental care and treatment for school-aged children throughout the state.

Funds were unavailable for additional vans and routing the unit throughout the state was stopped in 1972. One van continued to serve the southern one-third of the state until 1980, when, due to a lack of funding and staffing, the mobile dental clinic ceased operations.

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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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