Seal America logo
Selecting Supplies and Equipment

Selecting Supplies and Equipment

Mobile Dental Vans

To improve access to oral health care for students from families with low incomes, some school-based dental sealant programs have outfitted mobile vans with dental equipment to make a fully functioning operatory on wheels. Most mobile vans are large enough to hold two dental chairs and all the equipment needed to apply dental sealants, and some make it possible for staff to provide additional preventive and restorative care. Some advantages to mobile dental vans are that they eliminate the need to find space in a school and to set up, break down, and pack up equipment. They also reduce the likelihood that dental equipment will be damaged en route from one school to another, and they keep the dental clinic environment under the control of the dental team.

There are, however, disadvantages to mobile dental vans. The cost of outfitting a van is more than 10 times greater than the cost of purchasing portable dental equipment, and the annual cost of operating a mobile van is approximately twice as high as that of using portable dental equipment in a school. In addition, moving students to and from the van may be more complex than moving them within the school.

For a school-based dental sealant program to operate effectively from a mobile van, the following conditions must be met:

  • A special electrical hookup receptacle must be available at each school, or the van may be operated using a generator that requires fuel, which is more expensive than electric power.
  • A steady temperature must be maintained in the van at all times to ensure the stability of the liquid and chemical dental supplies and to prevent equipment damage.
  • The van must be regularly maintained to prevent mechanical failure.
  • The van must be insured, and when it is not in use, it must be stored in a safe location.
  • A driver must be available to drive the van (depending on the size of the van, the driver may need a commercial driver’s license).
  • Space must be available for students’ outerwear during cold or wet weather.