BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The COVID-19 pandemic has caused so many businesses to either close their doors or change the way they operate, and that can be said for those who take care of our teeth, but one local dentist is taking her practice on the road.
"I always wanted to give back to the community, Bakersfield is my home, my hometown," said Dr. Michelle Juanatas Bowens.
Mom, wife, powerlifter, Army veteran, buffalo soldier, and owner of the dentistry business, Smile Makers Mobile Dental Care, is all the things that make up Dr. Michelle Junatas Bowens. She says the idea to offer house calls for oral hygiene, appeared to her pre-pandemic, but it quickly became a reality after seeing a growing need.
"I saw people, letting their oral health go down the drain. With them being in their home they're more comfortable.”
Dr. Bowens serves the community as a public health dentist, which she says part of this role is to educate the community on oral health and treat underserved communities, you can find her traditional office in Delano, but her mobile clinic has made its rounds to nearly a 100 homes during the pandemic.
"I do preventive treatment. So, education, just the cleanings, of course, X-rays, the diagnosis of things that they need, whatever I could do for the patient at their homes like fillings."
The second-generation dentist says she has her mobile clinic permit from the California dental board and adds any dentist can apply and all of the tools that you would traditionally find in a dentist's office, she carries with her. She even has a portable X-ray for patients and views the images on her laptop and her phone. Everything is portable.
"Just enough for me to set my chair down and then unpack my equipment, and again the access to electricity and running water."
So, how is she able to keep herself safe during the pandemic? She protects herself as if every patient has COVID.
While the small business takes all types of insurance, Dr. Bowens says she makes herself also accessible to the more vulnerable communities and those battling homelessness.
"I do community outreach events. So, when I go in and I do the screenings that's free for them. So I just let them know, educate them."
Dr. Bowens adds that she is currently waiting for her customized cargo van where she will be able to house more equipment and treat patients inside.
Check here if you would like to connect with the mobile dentistry clinic.