USC University of Southern California

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

Community Engagement

Dental Hygiene Program

Students in the Ostrow School of Dentistry provide free services to more than 17,500 low-income individuals each year through the school’s Mobile Dental Clinic and numerous community health clinics throughout Southern California as well as at health fairs and other events. Students provide treatment and screening under faculty supervision. While service to disadvantaged community members is part of the school’s clinical training curriculum, Ostrow students also routinely volunteer for additional community service far above the school’s requirements.

Just a few of the community sites served include:

USC Neighborhood Mobile Dental Van Prevention Program

Second- and third-graders in the university’s Partner Schools benefit from this USC neighborhood mobile dental van, dedicated to improving the oral health of Los Angeles inner-city schoolchildren—many of whom have never before seen a dental health professional. Students rotate through this program, providing screenings, oral health education, fluoride treatments and dental sealants, as well as tobacco prevention counseling, to participating children. The program has provided preventive care to more than 10,000 children at seven local elementary schools and is one of the signature programs of the university’s outreach program, the Good Neighbors Campaign.

Mobile Dental Clinic

USC’s Mobile Dental Clinic program was launched in 1967 to serve patients with no resources for oral health care. It has since provided comprehensive dental treatment to more than 80,000 patients and has been a model for many other programs around the country. The Mobile Dental Clinic operates at 10 to 12 geographic sites throughout Central and Southern California each year, providing more than $1 million worth of care annually to underserved children, at no cost to their families.

USC + Union Rescue Mission Dental Clinic

The Ostrow School operates a community-based dental clinic on skid row in downtown Los Angeles at the Union Rescue Mission, where students, residents, and faculty provide comprehensive dental services to nearly 1,300 homeless patients each year. Patients who need specialty care are referred to the school’s specialty clinics on campus.

USC + JWCH Center for Community Health

The JWCH Center for Community Health in downtown Los Angeles serves the homeless on skid row, offering a wide range of medical, vision, and dental care. The Ostrow School designed and operates the dental clinic within the facility.

Hollenbeck Palms Home

The Hollenbeck Palms Home in Boyle Heights provides senior citizens with residential living, assisted living, and skilled nursing services. The Ostrow School operates an on-site dental service, providing emergency dental care for residents and educational opportunities for Ostrow students. Follow-up and comprehensive care is provided at the school in the Special Patients Clinic through a transportation plan operated by Hollenbeck Palms Home on behalf of its residents.


In collaboration with Ayuda Inc., student and faculty volunteers provide dental treatment using portable equipment one weekend a month to underserved children at elementary schools throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties. Approximately 2,100 children per year benefit from this volunteer-only program. Volunteers from USC and around the country also travel to Central and South America twice a year during school breaks to educate and treat children and adults with oral health needs.

Health Fairs

Students volunteer at 24 community health fairs throughout the year, where they provide free oral screening exams, preventive care instructions, and educational materials. The school’s mobile dental vans and portable exam stations are often used to provide free screenings at these events.

Give Kids a Smile Day

Give Kids a Smile Day is a national children’s dental access day held each February during National Children’s Dental Health Month. As part of the all-volunteer program, Ostrow students provide oral health education, screening, and prevention to underserved children.

Smoking Cessation

Ostrow School dental hygiene students offer tobacco prevention education and cessation services at various programs and health fairs throughout the year, answering questions, providing information on the ill effects of smoking, and offering cessation kits.

Children’s Health and Maintenance Program+ (CHAMP+)

The Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry’s CHAMP+ program is an extensive outreach program designed to improve the oral health of children ages 0 – 5 years in Los Angeles County. The program, funded by grants from First 5 Los Angeles, has multiple prongs: community outreach and education, screenings and preventive treatment in the field, dental home enrollment, assistance in accessing care, provision of comprehensive services to children in foster care, professional education to dental and health providers, and an expression of our Advanced Program in Pediatric Dentistry. This program collaborates with community clinics, the USC School of Social Work, Early Head Start and WIC programs in Los Angeles County and the Violence Intervention Program at the LAC+USC Medical Center.