Bulletin of Dental Education

ATSU-ASDOH Active in the Community With Annual Events

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ATSU 1On Friday, Feb. 16, A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH) and the Arizona Dental Foundation provided more than 250 uninsured children with free dental treatment at the annual Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) event. 

Care was provided by ATSU-ASDOH students, faculty and alumni, as well as local volunteer dentists. In total, about 600 volunteers participated in this year’s event. Children ages 6 to 12 from local school districts and community organizations were prescreened to receive cleanings, fillings, sealants and extractions.

To reinforce healthy habits, the event made going to the dentist fun. Festivities included carnival games and face painting. Many of the dental students dressed up as superheroes and other fictional characters to put kids at ease as they received care. 

GKAS is a national program, launched in 2003 by the American Dental Association to reduce school absenteeism by preventing oral health issues. Since the program’s inception, more than 5.5 million underserved children across the country have received free oral health services at a GKAS event. 

This was ATSU-ASDOH’s 13th year hosting GKAS. In that time, the school has served more than 4,000 children, providing approximately $2 million in care from 5,000 volunteers. That is certainly something to smile about!

ATSU 2At the beginning of the month, ATSU-ASDOH hosted the third annual American Indian Pre-dental Admission Workshop (PAW). PAW’s purpose is to help American Indian college students who are preparing to apply to dental school navigate the application process and expand their professional networks. This year, 12 college students from across the country attended the free workshop. 

According to the Society of American Indian Dentists (SAID), American Indian communities struggle with limited access to dental care. In fact, SAID estimates there are fewer than 300 American Indian dentists serving a population of 5.2 million. Many of the students who participate in PAW plan to practice in the communities where they grew up, increasing access to quality dental care in rural American Indian communities. 

In addition to preparing for the dental school application process, PAW participants get hands-on experience in the dental simulation lab, one-on-one time with current dental students, and a tour of the dental school. ATSU-ASDOH even provides the aspiring dentists with professional headshots. 

“We want students early in the process to understand what it is to become a dentist,” says Sarah Hill, a third-year student at ATSU-ASDOH who played a major role in planning the workshop. 

Courtesy of Anne Ackroyd, Public Relations Specialist, A.T. Still University

Published on March 14, 2018

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