As I mentioned in last week’s blog, February is National Children’s Oral Health Month, and about 1500 clinics nationwide use this opportunity to offer free dental services to about 450,000 underserved children. I want to give a special “shout-out” to Pacific University’s School of Dental Health Science for partnering with members of the Washington County (Oregon) Dental Society in providing dental care to children in the county.
On February 7th about 125 kids received care at the university’s Hillsboro campus. Services included routine screenings, teeth cleanings and fluoride treatments, oral hygiene instruction, and restorative procedures such as dental fillings and other services. This was a “win-win” for the children and their families, as well as the 64 dental students, plus the faculty, staff members, alumni, dentists, assistants, and community volunteers.
Pacific University School of Dental Health Science is unique. The program emphasizes providing care for patients with limited dental access. Students prepare for this by taking classes like “Spanish for Dental Professionals,” “Dental Hygiene Care for Diverse Populations,” “Dental Public Health and Research,” and independent capstone projects. Then students put the theory into practice by having clinical rotations in a public health clinic, community hospital, Indian Health Services clinic, managed care clinics, a long-term care facility, and a dental school.
The program is also interdisciplinary, and dental hygiene students work alongside other College of Health Professions students engaged in physical and occupational therapy, physician assistant studies, professional psychology, and pharmacy. Students truly learn first-hand the importance of “team-based care.” The College also partners with Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, a federally qualified health center that provides integrated medical, dental, and behavioral health care to underserved patients with an emphasis on migrant and seasonal workers.
Kudos to all of these collaborative relationships. This is another example where everyone benefits from studying and working together to serve the needs of the underserved.