Bulletin of Dental Education

Celebrating a Decade of Growth With the University of Utah School of Dentistry

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Utah SoD_10Yr_Emblem_FINAL-01 (1)Founded in 2012, the University of Utah School of Dentistry (U of U SOD) community took a moment to celebrate its 10-year anniversary and look back on some amazing accomplishments.

Through partnerships with state agencies, local health departments, school districts, refugee aid organizations and substance use disorder treatment centers, the U of U SOD has rapidly grown a robust network of clinics and services to provide needed oral care to many underserved communities, while providing exceptional education to students and developing a remarkable potential for research.

Adhering to strict personal protective equipment (PPE) standards, regular testing of students, personnel and patients, in addition to contact tracing and vaccination mandates, the U of U SOD managed to not only pull through the COVID-19 pandemic but actually saw growth and graduated students with extensive clinical experience.

In the past two years, the school opened two new community clinics in the Rose Park area of Salt Lake City, and in Ogden City, about 38 miles north of Salt Lake City. This brings a total of eight dental clinics that serve a variety of patients across Utah, including school children, refugees, veterans, elderly, those who are blind or differently abled and those who are undergoing treatment for drug dependency.  

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One of the two new community clinics, the University of Utah School of Dentistry Rose Park Dental Clinic staff members are pictured.

“We are proud to provide Utah with one of the nation’s best dental school clinic networks in the country,” says Wyatt Rory Hume, D.D.S., Ph.D., Dean of the School of Dentistry.

Through state legislation, the U of U SOD serves as the sole provider for Medicaid dental care in Utah. This puts the U of U SOD at the center of community-based oral care, providing excellent clinical experience for students and a strong foundation for public oral health research. Between 33-40% of visiting patients are covered under Medicaid.

The Mobile Dental Clinic Program has also been created to reach underserved patients in rural parts of Utah, and to augment a growing network of Medicaid partner dentists throughout the state.

Since its inception at the beginning of 2022, the mobile clinic has provided important oral care to non-covered, lower-income patients in more than a dozen rural locations in partnership with local health departments.

“We have found ample evidence that access to oral care is linked to a person’s overall improved health and higher quality of life,” said Dr. Hume. “We are proud to provide essential services to Utah’s underserved communities.”

In tandem, the school also established in 2022 a career pathway for Utah students in rural areas. Through Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) at select universities and colleges, the pathway readies rural undergraduate students interested in dentistry with personalized mentorship and advising, along with rotations and externships. Rural students can then apply for the school’s Public and Rural Expansive Conditional Acceptance Program (PRE-CAP), which offers a predental yearlong course pathway directly toward formal application to the dental school. Upon graduation, selected rural students can be eligible for student loan repayment if they elect to practice dentistry in a rural Utah community and treat Medicaid patients.

“The continued growth at our school puts us in a position to quickly become one of the most important research institutions for community-based oral health in the nation,” Dr. Hume said.

Courtesy of the University of Utah School of Dentistry

Published on May 10, 2023

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