A local non-profit organization is offering free weekly emergency dental services in Lynnwood starting Thursday.
Medical Teams International will be setting up three mobile dental vans at the Lynnwood Food Bank — located at 5320 176th St. S.W. — from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The organization will be offering emergency drive-up services for those who are in need of immediate dental care.
The dental clinic will also have a screening component modeled after the COVID-19 testing sites — keeping patients in cars to screen for symptoms and temperature. Health histories and blood pressure will also be taken off the mobile dental van. Patients are advised to remain in their vehicles while waiting and will be called in for treatment from their cars or an approved open-air waiting area. These are place-based walk-in clinics, different from the organization’s usual partner-hosted clinics.
Following the directive from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, private dental clinics are closed for non-emergency dental work, and as a result fewer people are receiving dental care, said Medical Teams International Executive Director Cindy Breilh. Some patients with private dentists are still able to seek emergency treatment, leaving the rest to either endure the pain or go to an emergency room. Breilh said Medical Teams International is hoping to provide aid while also diverting people away from hospitals, where they would be denied treatment anyway.
“We can treat the patient where the emergency can’t,” she said. “We would like to help benefit the community by opening these clinics around the area.”
Medical Teams International has 12 mobile dental clinics in Washington and Oregon. Recently, the organization moved its U.S.-based network to Lynnwood, where its three mobile clinic units offer monthly services in the area. According to Breilh, the clinic intends to provide services at the Lynnwood Food Bank once a week.
The clinic will also be offering services on Wednesdays at Alderwood Community Church — 3403 Alderwood Mall Blvd. In Lynnwood — starting April 8, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We’re wanting to utilize our (clinics) as much as we can,” Breilh said.
The clinic does not currently have any sites in Edmonds or Mountlake Terrace, but Breilh said the organization is open to working with community partners to bring services to neighboring cities. However, residents of those cities are welcome to use the Lynnwood locations.
“We would love to find out if there are other locations for patients,” she said.
Services are limited to dental emergencies, which are potentially life threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding, alleviate severe pain or infection. These include:
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Cellulitis or a diffuse soft tissue bacterial infection with intraoral or extraoral swelling that potentially compromise the patient’s airway
- Trauma involving facial bones, potentially compromising the patient’s airway
- Extensive dental caries or defective restorations causing pain
- Manage with interim restorative techniques when possible (silver diamine fluoride, glass ionomers)
- Suture removal
- Denture adjustment on radiation/ oncology patients
- Denture adjustments or repairs when function impeded
- Replacing temporary filling on endo access openings in patients experiencing pain
- Snipping or adjustment of an orthodontic wire or appliances piercing or ulcerating the oral mucosa
They will also provide urgent dental care, which focuses on the management of conditions that require immediate attention to relieve severe pain and/or risk of infection and to alleviate the burden on hospital emergency departments. These conditions include:
- Severe dental pain from pulpal inflammation
- Pericoronitis or third-molar pain
- Surgical post-operative osteitis, dry socket dressing changes
- Abscess, or localized bacterial infection resulting in localized pain and swelling
- Tooth fracture resulting in pain or causing soft tissue trauma
- Dental trauma with avulsion/luxation
- Dental treatment required prior to critical medical procedures
- Final crown/bridge cementation if the temporary restoration is lost, broken or causing gingival irritation
- Biopsy of abnormal tissue
For more information about Medical Teams International, visit medicalteams.org.
–By Cody Sexton