USC University of Southern California

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

Mobile Dental Clinics

In remote or underserved areas where dental services are unavailable, the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC has provided dental care through its pioneering work in mobile dentistry. Born out of one dental school faculty member’s desire to bring services to children in Baja Mexico, the school’s mobile efforts now provide services from Bakersfield to the Mexican border. Both in urban and in remote rural areas, the school’s mobile dental clinics offer invaluable service, free of charge, to those who otherwise would go without.

Established Mobile Clinics:

The USC Mobile Clinic

Born out of the Dental Ambassadors program, the USC Mobile Clinic first came into being in 1968 when the program began serving migrant farm workers in Central and Southern California at clinics set up in high school gymnasiums and recreation centers. Early on, the program depended upon the ingenuity and passion of student volunteers. They devised unique and innovative methods, such as using a paint compressor to power air-turbine hand pieces, to provide service to isolated and underserved populations.

In 1969, the program’s success attracted the attention of USC alumnus Walter Kiefer, president of Condor Coach Company. Kiefer donated a coach to the program, and it was outfitted for mobile dentistry through a grant from the Doris Duke Foundation. A year later, faculty member Charles Goldstein became advisor to the student-run Mobile Clinic. At Goldstein’s suggestion, the Mobile Clinic focused on serving children in need rather than an entire population.

In 1971, the Mobile Clinic expanded to include Ventura County resulting in an increase from 20 to 30 weekend clinics per year. To meet the increased demand, dental students from UCLA joined USC’s Mobile Clinic program and have participated in weekend clinics ever since. Mid-week clinics were added in 1975. A year later, the service area was expanded to include local elementary schools.

The Mobile Clinic has served more than 80,000 children in need. Each year, the program holds approximately 10 clinics, providing care in both rural and urban areas in Southern and Central California. The program now boasts five vehicles, including a sterilization van and modern, portable dental equipment. Since 1994, the Mobile Clinic has been a required clinical rotation for all doctoral dental students.

Please contact Marina Sahakian at for more information or about contributing volunteer hours. To make a gift to the Mobile Clinic, please contact the Ostrow School of Dentistry Office of Development.

USC/QueensCare Mobile Dental Program

According to the Los Angeles Unified School District, dental pain is the number one reason given for children missing school, and more than 50,000 children report to school nurses complaining of tooth ache annually.

To address this problem, the Ostrow School  partnered with QueensCare—a non-profit health care provider for low-income Angelenos—to create the USC/QueensCare Mobile Dental Program. Since 2001, this unique collaboration has provided free comprehensive dental care to low-income children in grades 2-5 in Hollywood-area elementary schools. Due to overwhelming need, a second QueensCare/USC dental clinic was established in 2004.

By bringing the mobile dentistry vehicles directly onto school grounds, USC faculty and students are able to provide comprehensive dental care and oral health education to more than 5,000 children at Los Angeles area elementary schools every year.

Please contact Marina Sahakian at for more information or about contributing volunteer hours.

More on the Web:
QueensCare Foundation

Neighborhood Mobile Dental Clinic

Established in March 2002, the Neighborhood Mobile Dental Clinic provides dental treatment to children Kindergarten through third-grade in the USC partner schools. The Neighborhood Mobile Clinic is dedicated to improving the oral health of inner-city school children in Los Angeles, many of whom have never before seen a dentist. Dental hygiene students rotate through this program and provide screenings, oral health education, fluoride treatments and preventative dental sealants to the teeth of participating children. The Neighborhood Mobile Dental Clinic has provided preventive care to more than 10,000 children at 15 local elementary schools and has become one of the signature programs of the entire university’s outreach effort through its annual Good Neighbors Campaign.

Please contact Marina Sahakian at for more information or about contributing volunteer hours.

More on the Web:
USC Family of Schools
LA Care
USC Good Neighbors Campaign