Apple Tree Dental’s Mobile Dental Unit

“This generous funding from Winona Community Foundation has helped us to optimize services we provide to patients with special needs at Home & Community Options in Winona.”
– Mary Larkin, Development & Marketing Director at Apple Tree Dental

Apple Tree Dental received a $10,000 Cycle 2 Community Grant from the Winona Community Foundation in 2021. This grant was to fund their purchasing of specialized equipment to upgrade on-site care for special needs clients at Home & Community Options.

Apple Tree Dental partners with Home & Community Options (HCO) as their mobile dental program host. This partnership has been a crucial component of the success of Apple Tree Dental’s mobile dental program in Winona. By combining Apple Tree Dental’s expertise with the trust and supportive relationships that HCO staff have with their clients, Apple Tree Dental is able to enable their skilled mobile dental team to provide high quality care in a location that is familiar and comfortable.

HCO patients are some of the most complex dental cases in the region and most dentists are not trained or equipped to provide for their complex dental care. Prior to Apple Tree Dental traveling to HCO, these patients were being transported to a dental clinic in Faribault to receive care. Transporting patients is a large expense due to the cost of hiring transportation and a care coordinator to travel with the patient. Providing care on-site instead of transporting the patient saves thousands of dollars per dental visit.

Between July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022, the Mobile Dental Team provided on-site dental services to 66 Home and Community Options special needs patients, during 130 dental visits with a value of services of more than $75,000.

The following equipment and supplies were able to be purchased with the support of the grant:

  • Extraction instruments: Luxator; Bayonet (forceps); elevators (Magic Stick); Ash (forceps); Freedom and Freedom cones; Montana jacks; Denture burs; and New air water syringe body
  • Schick x-ray sensor
  • Foot petal replacement

Dr. Victoria Brugger, our dental provider for HCO, reported that one of her HCO patients has a very tiny mouth. If she had not had the new smaller size-0 digital x-ray sensor purchased with this funding, she would not have been about to make the digital x-rays that were required for her to accurately diagnose the patient’s dental disease.

Having the new sensor allowed Dr. Brugger to successfully transition these patients into much-needed dentures and the patient is now experiencing much improved oral health.”

Dr. Brugger reported on a second HCO patient with whom she had experienced a lot of head movements during his dental exams and treatments, making it difficult to provide the patient’s necessary care. She said that using a traditional prophy polisher, the team would not have been able to follow his head movements and provide the essentially needed treatments.

With the new Freedom unit purchased with this funding, the team was able to follow his movements, without worrying about the cord getting in the way to impede the procedure. The new unit prevents patients from grabbing cords which can be very dangerous for both the patient and the mobile dental staff.

As a result of this grant, Apple Tree Dental was able to expand their capacity and improve the dental experience when treating special needs patients at the Home and Community Options. These improvements supported sustaining the program and allowed their skilled mobile dental team to improve the dental care they are able to provide, maintain the existing number of dental visits, and explore options to expand access to care in the future.

To learn more about Apple Tree Dental, please visit

An important part of the Winona Community Foundation’s mission is realized though awarding community grants to meet the ever-changing needs of the community through a competitive process. By doing so, a variety of interests are supported with the goal of helping local charities make a difference in the Winona area. Our community grants for nonprofits are broad and inclusive to meet the current community needs in the Winona area. Make a gift in support of the Community grant program to make a difference today.