310 Sansome Street
P.O. Box 729
Philipsburg, MT 59858
(406) 859-3271

Granite County Mobil Dental Unit

August 1, 2010

A 2007 Granite County health services survey showed dental care was the highest need among its community members. Now for the first time in 10 years, the demand for dental care in the area is being met by a mobile dental office.

"If I were to just try to set up a dental practice in Phillipsburg, then the people who live 30 miles away in Drummond are disadvantaged. So we decided to go for a mobile solution," said Granite County Hospital District Administrator Amy Edwards-Webb.

After residents identified dental care as the highest need in their communities, Granite County Hospital personnel applied for and received a federal grant.

The three year grant totals nearly $400,000 and it helped the county buy the trailer and equipment inside.

"We're just starting out so it's basic care right now. Basic feelings, we can take of tooth pain here. We're kind of feeling things out, seeing how things go working in a mobile environment. We will hopefully be able to provide full, comprehensive care at some point," said Missoula dentist, Russell Blackhurst, who comes in to work in Granite County's mobile office.

"We have a sealant program in the works this fall that we're going to offer to all the Granite County kids, to help prevent cavities," said Sharon Fillbach, Granite County Medical Center’s Materials Manager.

"Kids who don't have the access to dental care, they lose more time in school, they're behind their peers. Statistically, they have less opportunities as an adult, in terms of finding jobs, just because those basic health care needs go unmet," added Edwards-Webb.

With the cost of the staff, the supplies and fuel, it takes just under one thousand dollars to run this mobile dental office.

After the grant money runs out county officials say they hope to have a self-sustaining mobile dental office.