BEND, OR -- Inmates at the Deschutes County Jail now have access to dental care, through a partnership with a nonprofit mobile team. Kathy Carnash, with Medical Teams International, says good dental hygiene is linked to overall health and wellbeing, "And we know that when we have people in pain, that when there’s infection, that circulates throughout your whole body."
Deputies who work in the jail say the mobile dental van - which is really more of a bus - allows the agency, "To get through multiple individuals in one sitting. And under a normal circumstance, those individuals would all have to be individually transported out of the facility. The ability to be able to bring it here to us, and keep it in an environment that we can control, allows for safety for everyone involved and allows us to bring this opportunity in here and get more things done."
Nurses working in the jail say providing dental care can be difficult in a Corrections setting, "Being able to partner with an organization like this to provide these people dental care means we can improve pain, and we really may be able to help them on the road to recovery when they want to stay clean and sober, because we’re able to improve their health, overall."
The Sheriff’s Office says for some people, their time in jail or prison is the only time they will see a dentist. DCSO hopes to have the dental van at the Deschutes County Jail once a month, to treat adults in custody for everything from cavities to severe gum disease. It also visits Central Oregon Veterans Outreach and local homeless camps.