Dental School student volunteers at the CDA Cares Outreach at Cal Expo in Sacramento

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Pacific News

Dental Students Volunteer at CDA Cares Outreach Event in Sacramento

Sep 5, 2012

Californians in dire need of oral healthcare gathered at the Cal Expo in Sacramento on August 24-25 during the California Dental Association's CDA Cares event. Nearly 65 Dugoni School of Dentistry student volunteers were on hand to support the event through assistance with registration, clinic set-up, data entry, translation, escorting patients and other support services. The student volunteers were organized through the school's Student Community Outreach for Public Education (SCOPE) Program, and were led by Class of 2014 students Keon Ahghar, Erin Meidinger and Laura Stewart. Numerous faculty members and alumni from the dental school also attended to provide care.

During the two-day event more than 2,000 patients lined up to receive dental care, many waiting in line for hours due to the overwhelming public response. Patients received free cleanings, fillings, extractions and oral health education. Dental and health professionals - including general dentists, oral surgeons, dental hygienists, assistants, lab technicians, nurses and pharmacists - from throughout the state of California came out in full force to support the effort.

CDA Cares is a collaborative effort among the CDA, the CDA Foundation and America's Dentists Care Foundation. These organizations partnered to host the clinic, providing free oral health services and education to those who lack access to needed dental care. More than 1,500 patients are typically seen at CDA Cares events. At the last CDA Cares event in May in Modesto, Ca., $1.2 million in dental services were provided to 1,650 patients through the involvement of 1,250 volunteers.

According to the CDA, an estimated 10 million Californians experience barriers to dental care. State budget cuts eliminated virtually all adult Denti-Cal benefits in 2009, decimating oral health services for more than 3 million poor, disabled and elderly Californians. The state also eliminated funding for the California Children's Dental Disease Prevention Program (SB 111), which provided preventive oral health care and resources to low-income children. Today, according to the CDA, one in three Californians does not have access to dental care, including children and the working poor who cannot afford treatment.