USC University of Southern California

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

USC dental students provide free treatment to underserved students at Taft Union High School

USC dental students at Taft Union High School/Photo: Glenn Marzano

The week-long clinic is made possible by a partnership with California Resources Group, the California Teachers Association and Dental Care for Learning.

BY JOHN HOBBS MA ’14

On Jan. 25, USC dental faculty members and students began a week-long mobile clinic to provide free treatment to underserved students at Taft Union High School in Kern County with a press event and VIP tour.

Now in its third year, the clinic is made possible by a partnership between the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, the California Resources Group, the California Teachers Association and Dental Care for Learning.

“We believe no child should have to endure unnecessary dental pain simply because they can’t afford to see a dentist,” Dean Avishai Sadan said. “That’s why this partnership is so important. It not only allows us to treat existing dental problems; it also allows us to educate our patients on proper oral health care for a lifetime of healthy smiles.”

Last month, the USC dental team pre-screened nearly 900 Taft Union High School students to determine which cases needed immediate care. They found that:

—4 percent of the students had visible signs of dental infections/abscesses.

—10 percent had large caries infections needing either root canals or extractions of permanent teeth.

—25 percent of the students had visible caries infections on their teeth.

—10 percent of the students needed a deep cleaning due to have plaque build-up on their teeth.

“These numbers were surprising and demonstrated exactly why we needed to be there,” said Sunny Fereshteh, USC mobile clinic director. “We are thrilled to be part of this effort to alleviate unnecessary dental pain.”

It’s not just about tooth aches, though, Fereshteh said.

“Oral healthcare affects overall health,” she told Fox affiliate KBAK. “If we’re not taking care of our oral health, then nothing else is working.

The lack of access packs an economic punch as well.

According to the 2017 California Department of Public Health study, “Status of Oral Health in California: Oral Disease Burden and Prevention,” dental problems keep California students out of class an estimated 874,000 days a year, costing schools nearly $30 million in lost attendance-based funds. The study also found that dental conditions may hold underprivileged students back.

“California Resources Group (CRC) is honored to provide much-needed dental care for students in Taft because better dental health means they can better focus on their education,” said CRC President and Chief Executive Officer Todd Stevens. “By providing free dental health care for families in disadvantaged communities, …  we are proud to help students focus on their studies and energize them to become the future leaders of Kern County and the Golden State.”

Over the course of the week, the USC dental team provided treatment to 150 patients, conducting free 1,900 procedures worth more than $140,000.

“We’ve been serving Kern County for over 30 years,” Fereshteh told Fox affiliate KBAK. “We love this community tremendously.”

Posted 02182020