New Tioga Smiles Mobile Dental Unit unveiled

New Tioga Smiles Mobile Dental Unit unveiledFrom left, Hygienist Kristen Rice, Deputy Director of Public Health Sue Medina, Tioga County Legislator Bill Standinger, Public Health Director Lisa McCafferty, Tioga County Planning Director Elaine Jardine, Tioga County Legislative Chair Martha Sauerbrey, and Hygienist Nicole Whitmore prepare for a ribbon cutting on April 9 for the new Tioga Smiles Mobile Dental Unit. (Photo by JoAnn R. Walter) 

Representatives from the Tioga County Public Health Department, along with Tioga County Legislator Bill Standinger and Tioga County Legislative Chair, Marte Sauerbrey, gathered with guests on April 9 for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Tioga County Office Building. Unveiled was a new and upgraded Tioga Smiles Mobile Dental Unit.

The retired mobile dental van from 2003, and on the road for the past 15 years, served the county well. Tioga County Public Health shared that over 18,000 screenings, 26,000 dental cleanings, and as many as 28,000 sealants and restorations were completed. Today, the dental staff includes two full-time and one part-time hygienist.

New Tioga Smiles Mobile Dental Unit unveiled
Pictured is a view inside the new Tioga Smiles Mobile Dental Unit. More customized and with an inviting atmosphere, it includes modern dental equipment. (Photo by JoAnn R. Walter)

Sauerbrey commented, “We’ve been waiting a long time for this new vehicle, so today is a very exciting day,” adding, “Over 10,000 residents have been provided care, and that’s in every corner of the county. And most importantly, the dental van serves children throughout the county.”

Sue Medina, Tioga County Public Health deputy director, shared, “After three grant applications, and a lot of coordination and planning, we finally got to this point.” 

“We’re happy to share it with the community and we look forward to serving the needs of the county,” Medina added.

New Tioga Smiles Mobile Dental Unit unveiled
Pictured is Tioga County Planning Director Elaine Jardine trying out the comfortable patient chairs inside the new Tioga Smiles Mobile Dental Unit. Jardine assisted with the grant application process. (Photo by JoAnn R. Walter)

Visiting the dentist is made easier for children and families across the county as the Tioga Smiles Mobile Dental Unit travels from school to school throughout the year. Sauerbrey remarked that the on-site care eliminates barriers, and for parents, it assists them so they do not have to miss work. 

According to the Public Health Department’s link at, adults are also able to receive care before or after school and during school vacations. Services typically include dental cleanings, sealants and fluoride treatments, along with fillings and extractions. All dental insurances are accepted, plus a Sliding Fee Scale is available. 

The new unit, customized and complete with more modern dental equipment, was made possible by a Community Development Block Grant, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Floyd Hooker Foundation. Medina commented that the new unit also offers additional privacy and houses an inviting atmosphere. 

Standinger remarked, “We’re grateful for the funds,” adding, “The real heroes are the Public Health Department staff members who put in a lot of extra time to get this done.”

New Tioga Smiles Mobile Dental Unit unveiled
Pictured is a view of the reception and waiting area inside the new Tioga Smiles Mobile Dental unit. (Photo by JoAnn R. Walter)

Standinger also made mention of Hooker, who left behind a legacy after his death in 2007, and where he designated 30 percent of his estate to benefit the children of Tioga County. Hooker netted $45 million in a 1999 New York State Lottery, one of the largest prizes awarded in state history. 

In memory of Hooker, Standinger said, “I know that he would be very pleased to see the van here today.”

The Tioga County Public Health Department is located at 1062 State Route 38 in Owego, N.Y. and can be reached at (607) 687-8600. To contact Tioga Smiles Dental Services directly, call (607) 687-8595.

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