Mobile dental office offers root canals on wheels

By

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Locksmith Kevin Whitesides had just finished his shift at The Mirage when it was time for a visit to the dentist.

Whitesides only had to stroll to a 53-foot trailer parked between The Mirage and Treasure Island parking garages, navigate a handful of steps and enter the climate-controlled environment of Las Vegas' dentist with a diesel.

Waiting for him was dental hygienist Lindsay Brock. And a cleaning.

"It's like going to a regular dental office, except this one is on wheels," Whitesides said. "I love the convenience."

Mobile businesses are nothing new in Las Vegas, where partying tourists can seek medical treatment in a rolling clinic operated by Hangover Heaven and, for a while at least, could ogle women in a glass-sided Stripper Mobile.

Having a root canal on the run is not only commonplace in Sin City, it has been an option for years.

Operated by Access Health Dental, the tooth care business on wheels makes pit stops at high-profile Strip properties such as MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Paris Las Vegas, Stratosphere, Luxor, Caesars and The Mirage, treating as many as 20 patients per day. While entirely self-contained with generators, the mobile dental office usually plugs in to hotel power at each stop.

MGM Resorts International officials said the visiting dentist helps provide affordable, quality health care to their workers.

"We know that our employees are busy, and MGM's goal is to remove barriers and make access to services convenient," said John Socha, MGM Resorts employee benefits executive director. "Onsite Access Health Dental is a great resource to help our employees maintain not just a healthy smile, but overall dental health."

The trailer has five rooms set up with modern dental equipment. The modified heavy truck trailer has a pop-out that creates a five-foot-wide hallway down one side when rolled out at each stop. An elevator lift makes the trailer accessible to the physically disabled.

At many of its stops on the Strip there's also a separate, 250-square-foot modular building used as a waiting room.

The trailer, valued at $1 million, includes a high-tech machine that takes 360 degree X-rays of patients' mouths. X-rays appear on screens in front of patients while they sit in the chairs.

"Once people come on board, it's like being in any other office," said Brock, the hygienist. "It's neat being in a different location every day."

Office manager Samantha Salas recalled her first reaction when she first visited the 750-square-foot dental trailer when she began working in it eight months ago.

"I asked, 'What do you mean a truck?' Then, you walk in, and it's, oh my God, it's so nice," Salas said.

Las Vegas-based Access Health Dental has six permanent offices, plus the mobile unit.

The trailer generates revenue comparable to the bricks-and-mortar offices, said Bill Butier, Access Health president.

Butier, who bought the business in 2012, started using the current trailer in 2010. A previous owner did similar work in smaller RVs with two or three dental chairs, he said.

Access Health driver Dave Perrie also takes the trailer to Turntable Health on Bridger Avenue in downtown, off-Strip casinos such as the Rio, and to Laughlin three days a month.

"We've had great feedback from our patients about this unorthodox way of delivering dental care," said Zubin Damania, founder of Turntable Health. "They love the movies they can watch from the dental chairs, the great care, and the convenience of being right outside Turntable's lobby."

Tourists also find their way to the trailer for everything from routine X-rays and cleanings to root canals, extractions and denture work, said dentist Mark Fotovat, who oversees the dental operations.

"We do it all here. There's nothing I can't do. The only difference is that it moves at night," Fotovat said. "Most people view dental work in a trailer as inferior, so it's fun for us to change their perspectives."

Butier said he realizes prospective patients might be skeptical of treatment in a trailer, which is why the company goes to great lengths to ensure the space is sterile and clean while complying with all federal standards.

"We spend more than we need to because of that impression. Because it's a mobile office, we know it has to be better," he said.

Besides Fotovat, Brock and Salas, two assistants — Lindsay Trejo and Sonia Alvarado — staff the dental trailer.

Fotovat said he enjoys his dental office on wheels. "It's fun to do dental work in a place you wouldn't expect."

___

Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.