by: SUSAN MATHENY/THE PIONEER - Dr. Teri Barichello examines Buff Intermediate fourth-grader Leslie Ramirez before cleaning her teeth in the Tooth Taxi April 30.The Tooth Taxi was in Madras April 28-May 1, screening some 39 Buff Intermediate students and providing them with free dental treatment.

The Tooth Taxi mobile dental van is operated by the Dental Foundation of Oregon, the charitable arm of the Oregon Dental Association. The 38-foot van is equipped with two full dental stations where fillings, cleanings, and other dental work can be done by volunteer dentists and their assistants.

The Tooth Taxi visits schools throughout Oregon to treat the uninsured and underserved children with limited access to dental care. The van will provide dental services to over 3,000 children each year, and is expected to provide more than $700,000 worth of free dental care annually.

Tooth Taxi volunteers also educate children in classrooms about oral hygiene. At Buff Intermediate, Dr. Teri Barichello, and dental assistants Catherine Johnson and Rebecca Jordan treated students, taught them about tooth care, and handed out free toothbrushes, toothpaste and hourglass timers.

Last Wednesday, third-grader Natalie Lockey learned the timer was to help her brush her teeth for two minutes. She starts the hourglass when she begins, and the sand runs out after two minutes.

Lockey had just received a filling. “What’s the most important thing for you to remember?” Dr. Barichello quizzed. “Flossing,” Natalie replied.

Fourth-grader Leslie Ramirez was next and just needed a tooth cleaning due to built-up plaque. Dr. Barichello talked with her about brushing and flossing, also.

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