Four decades prior to the Surgeon General’s landmark report about the disparate access to dental health care among population groups, the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry founded the Office of Community Health Programs. With the installation of a dental clinic at the USC Neighborhood Health Center in Watts, Calif., following the riots of 1965, the school began its first extramural community health project.
Today, the Office of Community Health Programs operates multiple stationary clinics strategically located where care is needed most—such as the USC Dental Clinic at Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row. Several mobile dentistry programs, including the original USC Mobile Clinic, bring oral health services to the doorsteps of underserved areas through unique partnerships and innovative collaborations.
The school is also engaged in a variety of programs designed to raise awareness regarding oral health disparities and to encourage young students from under-represented minorities to consider careers in the oral health professions.
Each year, the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry sponsors or participates in numerous health fairs and special events offering free dental screenings and oral health education. In addition, the Ostrow School maintains partnerships with hospitals throughout Southern California.
At the Ostrow School, we are proud of our legacy and our ongoing commitment to serve those in need. Despite our best efforts and those of other like-minded colleagues, disparities in oral health care persist and in many populations continue to grow. To help us combat this epidemic, please consider supporting Ostrow’s Community Oral Health Programs.
For many, oral health care can be a challenge both financially and logistically. For migrant farm workers and their children working in rural areas of Central and Southern California, dental clinics are simply too far and too expensive. For children of the working poor in Los Angeles, oral health care is often an afterthought until rampant tooth decay makes the pain unbearable. For senior citizens, a trip to the dentist may mean an exhausting crosstown trip.
At the Ostrow School, providing care to those in need means providing access to care. Community Health Programs operates both fixed and mobile programs throughout Southern and Central California, bringing oral health care to areas where financial and geographical impediments are greatest.
These programs leverage resources from a variety of like-minded government agencies and private foundations. Through unique and innovative partnerships, the Ostrow School is able to provide oral health care to thousands of Californians every year.
For many years the Ostrow School has been intimately involved in reducing disparities in oral health—not only in services, but also in education and practice. Whether through exposing under-represented minority elementary and high school students to the profession or through scholarships and support during their education, Ostrow has always remained proactive in closing the gap through a multi-faceted approach.
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Health Fairs & Screenings
Each year, the Ostrow School participates in dozens of health fairs and special events across Southern California. Faculty, staff and students provide oral screenings and health education to thousands of people annually. The School also participates in a number of recurring health fairs.
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Central to combating disparities in oral health is empowering and enlisting others to be advocates. The Ostrow School engages in several innovative programs aimed at educating other health professionals to recognize dental disease and to understand its implications. For instance, school nurses are often the first and, in many cases, last point of contact for young children with dental disease. By providing them with the education and tools to properly diagnose and refer these cases, nurses become our frontline defense against more serious infections and the needless loss of dentition.
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The Ostrow School has several strategic affiliations with other health care facilities throughout Southern California. Our students, residents and faculty provide valuable oral health care services through established rotations.
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