Before the UConn School of Dentistry hosts the Connecticut Mission of Mercy Free Dental Clinic in November (CT MOM), students from the school of dentistry recently volunteered at the Rhode Island Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic (RIMOM) in Providence to provide free dental care. care of patients in need.
Twenty-seven UConn students, under the leadership of alumni Dr. Deborah Fuller (Class of 1995, AEGD 1996) and Dr. Brian Gaudette (Class of 1993, AEGD 1994, Endo 1998), helped more than 455 patients over the week -end volunteer.
“Even though our nation’s oral health has improved dramatically over the past few decades, not all Americans have equal access to these improvements,” Fuller said. “Certain racial/ethnic and socio-economic groups have poorer oral health due to the social determinants of health: the conditions in the places where people are born, live, learn, work and play. Some groups of people cannot afford dental care out of pocket, do not have private or public dental insurance, or cannot take time off work to attend dental care. Others live in communities where they don’t have access to fluoridated water and school sealing programs, healthy food, and public transportation to dental appointments. Mission of Mercy programs provide free dental care to the uninsured, underinsured, or anyone who cannot access dental care. It is essentially a missionary journey into our own backyards.
In addition to the more than 455 patients served, volunteers from the RIMOM clinic performed more than 1,920 procedures, the value of free services totaling $273,000. With the sheer volume of patients served, students have played an important role in helping to deliver care effectively and efficiently.
“Patients had presented and waited outside the facility to be seen since midnight; it was an important reminder that there is a great need for dental care in our own communities,” said third-year student Tetiana Winiarskyji. “An immense amount of dental work was done in the space of a single weekend, and there was so much gratitude in the atmosphere. Volunteering alongside all of Rhode Island’s amazing dentists at RIMOM has been so rewarding, and I can’t wait to be at CTMOM in just a few weeks! »
Offering free care alongside seasoned dentists not only gives students a valuable learning experience, but also reminds them why they went to dental school in the first place.
“Mission of Mercy has changed the lives of many near and far, and is a true representation of what we can do when we come together for the common good,” said third-year student Jerry Gargano. “To see how grateful patients are after their visit; whether it’s a cleaning, a filling, a root canal or an extraction, it reminds me why I chose to go to dental school. Combining this feeling of gratitude with the unique opportunity to get one-on-one coaching from experienced dentists is something truly special for a dental student.
On Veterans Day weekend, the UConn School of Dental Medicine hosts CT MOM at the UConn Health Farmington campus, where students, faculty and providers across the state will provide free dental care to hundreds of underserved and underinsured patients. Learn more, including how to participate.