USC University of Southern California

Serving Up Smiles at the Forum

The USC School of Dentistry’s Mobile Dental Clinic has joined forces with other Southern California health care providers to provide free health services at the Forum in Inglewood through Aug. 18.

With the help of USC and other local partners, Remote Area Medical, a nonprofit volunteer group dedicated to providing free care in remote or low-access areas throughout the Americas, will provide free medical, dental and vision exams and treatment for thousands by the end of the weeklong event. The Los Angeles operation is the group’s first venture into a major metropolitan area, said RAM founder Stan Brock.The USC School of Dentistry’s Mobile Dental Clinic has joined forces with other Southern California health care providers to provide free health services at the Forum in Inglewood through Aug. 18.

The promise of free care has generated a huge response. Since treatment is provided on a first-come, first-served basis, hundreds of prospective patients spent the night of Aug. 10 at the Forum in order to receive care on Aug. 11.

Remote Area Medical issues 1,500 tickets per day for care, and the Aug. 11 tickets had run out by 4:30 a.m. that morning, Brock said.

Michael Pinkston of Los Angeles arrived at the Forum at 8:45 p.m. Aug. 10 and received ticket number 84. He was grateful for the chance to be treated at the Mobile Dental Clinic after enduring the effects of a traumatic dental injury for more than a year.

“I stumbled forward and the first thing to hit the ground was my teeth,” Pinkston said, describing the painful accident that broke his front teeth in half.pinkstonsmall_RAMLA09

Having been laid off from his job in September 2007, the accident and its effects on his health, appearance and confidence severely impaired his job hunt, but unemployment left him unable to pay for the dental care he needed. Luckily, Santosh Sundaresan, Mobile Clinic dentist and assistant professor of clinical dentistry at USC, was able to complete a full restoration on the broken teeth and make Pinkston’s smile look and feel like new.

“It’s not just cleanings and fillings,” said Sunjay Lad, 2009 USC School of Dentistry graduate and Mobile Clinic volunteer. “We’re performing root canals, restorations, extractions – anything that can be done in a day. We’re seeing everything.”

Mobile Clinic director Marjorie Domingo said that with a full volunteer staff manning the five USC mobile dental units, the clinic should be able to treat nearly 40 cases per day. Combined with services from other dental charities and volunteers at the Forum, USC’s efforts will ensure that hundreds of people receive the oral health care they need by the end of the weeklong operation.

Pinkston is happy to have been treated and is thrilled to have his healthy smile back. Now he will be able to ramp up his job-hunting efforts, he said.

“I’m so grateful to the Mobile Dental Clinic for participating,” he said. “This will have a huge affect on my life. This is tons of burden taken off my shoulders.”