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Providers brush up on community service

by Beth Newcomb
Under the supervision of Neighborhood Mobile Clinic Co-Director Carlos Sanchez, first-year pediatric dentistry resident Geraldine Ruiz screens a young student. (USC Photo/Beth Newcomb)
Under the supervision of Neighborhood Mobile Clinic Co-Director Carlos Sanchez, first-year pediatric dentistry resident Geraldine Ruiz screens a young student. (USC Photo/Beth Newcomb)

Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC community service programs received $10,000 in free oral care products resulting from a pledge campaign from Colgate-Palmolive and the Hispanic Dental Association during Oral Health Month in July.

The Neighborhood Mobile Dental Van Prevention Program (NMDVPP) and the USC Dental Clinic at the Union Rescue Mission (URM) each received $5,000 in toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash for distribution to their patients. The funds were the result of a campaign that encouraged consumer participants to take charge of their smiles by pledging online or by text message to practice healthy habits. For every pledge submitted during Oral Health Month, a dental clinic in one of the chosen cities nearest the participant received $1 worth of Colgate oral care products.

NMDVPP provides screenings, education and preventive treatment at several elementary schools in the USC neighborhood, traveling between locations with two mobile clinic vehicles. The program received oral hygiene supplies geared for the youngsters the program serves, including Spongebob Squarepants toothbrushes and toothpaste.

NMDVPP Co-Director Carlos Sanchez said the donation will have a big impact because the average annual budget of the program is $40,000.

“Our program relies on grants,” he said. “Five thousand dollars goes a long way. We’ll be able to help more people and provide more oral health supplies to the less fortunate.”

The URM clinic primarily serves homeless individuals from shelters and missions in downtown Los Angeles and is located on Skid Row. Santosh Sundaresan, the Ostrow School’s section chair of community dentistry, said the donation of toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash will help free up funds as they work to provide comprehensive treatment, as well as oral health supplies, to those in need.

“The dental clinic performs comprehensive care dental treatment, taking care of the patients’ dental needs, including cleaning, extractions, restorations, root canal treatment and, most importantly, dentures, which restores their smile and self-esteem,” he said. “As we have to buy toothbrushes, this is definitely a blessing.”

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