Iowa is home to one of two truck stops in the country that feature dental offices. Dr. Thomas Roemer has an office in the second floor of the I-80 Truck Stop at the Walcott exit in eastern Iowa. "If we had 10 patients walk up today, I could safely assume that nine of them probably have a toothache or some kind of tooth discomfort," Roemer says.
"These are 30, 40, 50 year old men that are literally hurting that bad that are tears coming out of their eyes…You feel pretty bad for them when they’re out there on the road…They try to call any local dentist and say they’ve got a toothache, they’re not going to get in."
Most patients need a root canal or have to have a tooth pulled. Alfred, a trucker on a trip from New York to Salt Lake, drove for two days with a sore tooth before he got to Roemer’s office and asked the dentist to yank it out.
"It’s bad because you can’t just stop anywhere with a big rig and have some work done, you know, you’ll get a ticket if you stop anywhere," Alfred said. "So right here, it’s good." In some respects, Roemer may be making the roads safer by relieving the stress of truckers driving with a toothache.
"You get a driver behind 18 wheels and 75,000 or 100,000 pounds on their load, it’s probably the worst scenario you’re going to see if someone has pain, discomfort problems driving and concentrating on their job," Roemer says. Some truckers have told Roemer they’ve driven hundreds of miles out of their way to get to his office at the I-80 Truck Stop near Walcott which features a movie theater and three restaurants.