Bulletin of Dental Education

Howard University CD Selected as National Launching Site for Exciting Community Oral Health Outreach Initiatives

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Howard University College of Dentistry (HUCD) was selected as the 2024 launching site for two major national oral health initiatives. The American Dental Association (ADA) and Henry Schein, Inc., selected HUCD as the national kick-off site for the annual Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) program. HUCD is the nation’s fifth oldest dental school and one of only two dental schools identified as a historically Black university (HBCU). It is the only dental school located in the District of Columbia. An estimated 120 under-served Washington, DC, students from local elementary and middle schools (twice as many as in recent years) participated in the day-long Give Kids A Smile Event at the Howard University College of Dentistry. 

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From left to right: Howard University President, Ben Vinson, III, Ph.D; National Dental Association President, Nicole Cheek, D.D.S.; and Howard University College of Dentistry Dean, Andrea D. Jackson, D.D.S., gather for the Give Kids A Smile event.

The ADA launched Give Kids A Smile 22 years ago as a way for dentists across the country to join with others in the community to provide free dental services to underserved children while also highlighting for policy makers the ongoing challenges that underserved families face in finding and affording dental care.    

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“Howard University has been an enthusiastic partner with GKAS since its inception, every step of the way, and we were honored to take the lead this year in support of America’s underserved children,” said Andrea D. Jackson, D.D.S., Dean of HUCD.

LaToya M. Barham, D.D.S., Associate Professor, Residency Director and Chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, said the event put the spotlight on preventive care and oral health literacy. Children received dental examinations, radiographs, cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants and fillings, simple extractions under special circumstances and participated in a range of health education activities.    

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Howard University College of Dentistry students and faculty volunteers during the Give Kids A Smile event.

HUCD was also selected as the site for the national launch of the Crest + Oral-B Bridges Scholarship program in partnership with the National Dental Association Foundation, National Dental Association and United Negro College Fund, Inc. The new scholarship program is designed to encourage and support Black and African American students pursuing a career in the dental profession. During weekend activities to announce the scholarship program, Crest + Oral-B also partnered with Kare Mobile to help in the Closing America’s Smile Gap outreach program in Washington, D.C. Howard University students were on hand to help provide dental screenings, fluoride treatments, oral health education, and product donations to children in need. 

Closing America’s Smile Gap is a year-long program dedicated to eliminating oral health inequity in the United States. Sponsors of the program said, “it takes volunteers across the nation to make the mission a reality.” Four Howard University dental students were recognized for their outstanding contributions to community outreach during the program.

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Dean Andrea D. Jackson (center) pictured with Howard University students who received community service awards. Also pictured are National Dental Association Foundation President, John T. Daniels, III; National Dental Association President, Nicole Cheek, D.D.S.; and Ms. LaTisha Guster of Kare Mobile, Inc.

Internationally, Howard University students were able to spread the university’s motto of “Truth and Service” by collaborating with Zion Care International, Inc. Dental, medical and optical care were provided through a group of volunteer providers and students to care for vulnerable and underserved communities during a medical mission in St. Andrew Parish, located in Jamaica. Thirty-four Howard University students, with Howard University faculty and alumni as attendings, participated in the mission during summer break.   

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Howard University students participating in international mission in St. Andrew Parish, located in Jamaica.

This was the students’ first mission internationally since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The students found their experience invaluable to supplementing their education. They were able to closely observe providers, not only in dentistry but other health care fields, while having direct patient interaction and opportunities.

Published on March 13, 2024

Courtesy of Howard University College of Dentistry

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