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NYU Dentistry Marks Decade of Serving Underserved Communities Around the World

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NYU LogoThis year marks the 10th anniversary of the collaboration between NYU College of Dentistry (NYU Dentistry) and Henry Schein Cares, the global corporate social responsibility program of Henry Schein, Inc. More than 3,000 people—2,049 children and 1,076 adults—in four different countries received free dental care during the 2018-19 school year, thanks to the NYU Dentistry/Henry Schein Cares Global Student Outreach Program.

NYU 2 Group ShotNYU Dentistry’s outreach program provides free dental services to populations facing barriers to oral health. Those barriers include a lack of local dental providers, economic hardship and inadequate health insurance coverage. Traveling to communities in interdisciplinary teams of general dentists and dental specialists, NYU Dentistry students receive hands-on, clinical instruction and are exposed to public health issues under the guidance of faculty, alumni, local partners and community leaders.

“The NYU Dentistry/Henry Schein Cares Global Student Outreach Program is designed with two goals in mind: delivering and sustaining oral health improvements in host communities and creating exceptional service-learning experiences for our students. Through our outreach, we are fulfilling a critical health need, conducting meaningful public health research and transforming the way future oral health care providers view their roles in society,” says Stuart Hirsch, D.D.S., Vice Dean for International Initiatives and Continuing Dental Education at NYU Dentistry.

Henry Schein donates the oral health supplies and materials for each outreach program. The teams use these products to provide routine and urgent dental services, including screenings and preventive and restorative treatment for children and adults at no cost to the patient.

“We are pleased to support NYU Dentistry in its efforts to provide care to remote and underserved populations around the world, offer crucial learning opportunities for its students, and build the capacity of local community partners to provide care,” says Henry Schein Chairman and CEO Stanley Bergman. “NYU Dentistry was Henry Schein’s founding partner for the Global Student Outreach Program 10 years ago, and the positive impact our teams have made together speaks to what is possible through public-private partnerships. We thank NYU Dentistry for its work this academic year, and look forward to what we are able to accomplish together in the years ahead.”

Reaching Underserved Communities Near and Far
Barriers to oral health exist both in the United States and abroad. This year, NYU Dentistry’s outreach program took teams to three domestic locations (Clinton County and Dutchess County, NY, and Machias, ME) and four international locations (Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Cuenca, Ecuador; Surkhet, Nepal; and Pokhara, Nepal).

Last fall was the first time NYU Dentistry hosted a week-long clinic in Clinton County in northeast New York, on the border of Canada. United Healthcare recognized that many of its members in the North Country had not seen a dentist in the past year, so it partnered with NYU Dentistry to fund the clinic in Plattsburgh. Patients received dental care with no out-of-pocket cost.

A team from NYU Dentistry will return in fall 2019.

This also marked the first year that the NYU Dentistry/Henry Schein Cares Global Student Outreach Program provided care in Cuenca, Ecuador, and Pokhara, Nepal. NYU Dentistry previously conducted outreach programs in Ecuador and Nepal, but returned to new cities based on local needs and partnerships.

Building Sustainable Models of Care
As part of its outreach efforts, the NYU Dentistry/Henry Schein Cares Global Student Outreach Program works to implement sustainable oral health prevention, including identifying and training local members of the community who can continue the efforts. For instance, in Cambodia, NYU Dentistry  partners with University of Puthisastra’s Faculty of Dentistry, which is already successfully implementing oral health education, screening and preventive care, such as sealants and silver diamine fluoride. During the November 2018 outreach, NYU Dentistry helped with urgent dental treatment needs such as restorations, extractions and root canals.

In addition, NYU Dentistry has started to transition out of providing clinical care in Kathmandu, Nepal, empowering local partners to take ownership of the program through classroom toothbrushing and referring children to a local dental college as a permanent dental home.

NYU 1Transforming Future Dental Professionals
Each year, nearly 200 NYU dental, dental hygiene and advanced dental education students participate in outreach programs. These intensive, community-based clinical experiences give students hands-on training and one-on-one clinical instruction from supervising faculty.

But beyond learning the skills to maintain healthy smiles, students also describe having transformative experiences, rethinking their roles as future health care providers and gaining a deeper understanding of barriers to healthcare in different settings.

“Serving globally has allowed me to visualize a greater purpose for how I want to live my life, and work with a team to provide care for those most in need,” says Nicole Haydt, D.D.S., who graduated from NYU Dentistry CD in May. As a dental student she traveled to Cambodia and Nepal with the program.

“The cultures and communities in which we served are varied and complex, as are the reasons why those who need dental care the most aren’t receiving it,” says Catherine Lee, D.D.S., who participated in outreach trips to Ecuador and Maine as a dental student and also graduated in May from NYU Dentistry. “My dental global public health training at NYU has profoundly impacted how I think about my career in dentistry and has strengthened my sense of responsibility not only locally, but also to the global community.”

Courtesy of Rachel Harrison, Senior Public Affairs Officer, New York University. The full article can be found online.

Published on August 14, 2019 

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