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Young people in need of dental care can visit the rolling facility at Edwards Elementary.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Dental Foundation of Oregon operates a mobile dental van, called the 'Tooth Taxi,' that travels the state providing free dental services to children.

One of the essential services that often goes by the wayside for low-income families or those in a financial pinch is dental care.

For kids missing out on that service in the Newberg area, an opportunity to help ease that burden and take care of their teeth free of charge is on its way.

The Dental Foundation of Oregon operates a mobile dental van called the "Tooth Taxi" that travels the state providing free dental services to children. Services offered — all free of charge — include exams, cleanings, sealants, fillings and simple extractions.

The Tooth Taxi will venture to Newberg and operate from Edwards Elementary School (715 E 8th St.) from Dec. 14-18.

"We are so thankful to the Taxi and the Dental Foundation of Oregon for this invaluable service to our community," Newberg School District nurse Annie Berger said. "As a school nurse, there are few things harder to see than a child in pain. Children in our community have untreated dental needs for many reasons. We have some students that don't have a dentist, or no insurance or if they do, they can't get into their dentist because of the long backlog.

"Dental disease isn't just an oral health issue. Poor oral health also affects a child's overall health. When decay goes untreated, it can lead to other issues like chronic health problems and have negative effects on a child's developing self-concept."

Treatment priority will be given to those with no dental insurance, those who are dealing with pain, those who have never seen a dentist, and those on the Oregon Health Plan who don't see a dentist regularly or can't afford their copays.

Full safety protocols in line with Oregon Health Authority guidance will be in place for the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials with the Dental Foundation emphasize that the work will be done in a safe, sanitized space with masks worn by all.

Advance registration is required along with an appointment for whatever services a child may need. All dental services will be provided at no cost to those who register. For more information, call 503-329-8877.

"I'd encourage anyone with a child with an unmet dental need to call and make an appointment to see the Tooth Taxi dentist," Berger said.

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