Dental hygienist sets sights on mobile care for seniors

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 12/22/21

CLAY COUNTY – Armed with a trailer and a truck, a dental hygienist is hoping to help Clay County seniors with mobile dental care in the new year.

Heather Lynn-Crews runs Smiles to You and has …

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Dental hygienist sets sights on mobile care for seniors

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – Armed with a trailer and a truck, a dental hygienist is hoping to help Clay County seniors with mobile dental care in the new year.

Heather Lynn-Crews runs Smiles to You and has lived in the county for more than 40 years. She has been a dental hygienist for about 20 years and the COVID-19 pandemic spurred the idea for a mobile operation.

Lynn-Crews said senior centers had a gap in care. Most people have their natural teeth later in life and live longer than before, she said.

“There was a huge need at the senior centers,’’ Lynn-Crews said. “It struck me that we need to bring a dental office to people.”

Transportation is hard for facilities, staffing is down, and caregivers of the seniors have a hard time getting off work to take them to the dentist, Lynn-Crews said.

“COVID made it hard to go to a brick-and-mortar facility. [Seniors] could still fear COVID, have to go to cancer treatments or have social anxiety,” she said. “There is such a need for mobile dentistry. It’s easier and it’s cheaper.”

Lynn-Crews acquired a trailer earlier in the year and will be assisted with administrative duties by her daughter, a health administration major. The goal is to start by January, though the amount of red tape is substantial, she said.

“It’s going to be surreal for me [to start], honestly. I’ll be so happy to do what I’ve been longing to do for this past year,” Lynn-Crews said. “It will happen. We’ll do it the right way.”

Lynn-Crews has a large network of contacts for referrals, she added. Lynn-Crews said she has a collaborated agreement with Fleming Island-based Dr. John Verville.

In other states, dental hygienists can own their own practices, but Florida laws require them to be licensed under a dentist. For a mobile practice, there are a few targeted areas dental hygienists can treat on their own, which includes senior centers.

“I wish one day we could have more power in the state of Florida,” Lynn-Crews said.

There is internet on the 26-foot trailer and it can also accommodate a dentist. Most of the forms can be done electronically. It has the capability for teledentistry, uses cloud-based software for files and can take patient photographs.

“I feel like everyone deserves affordable preventative dentistry,” Lynn-Crews said. “The dental office can come to you.”

Lynn-Crews can be reached at heatherlynnsmile@gmail.com.

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