Community Dentistry is an integral part of the curriculum for dental students at A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH).
Community Dentistry focuses on community-based health promotion and disease prevention measures to improve the oral health of at-risk and underserved populations, as well as the characteristics of dental care delivery systems and the social, political, psychological, and economic factors affecting utilization of the system. These public health concepts are integrated in the first, second, and third-year curriculum through classroom education, service-learning, and community projects.
- The service-learning model provides the dental students with unique collaborations with at-risk and under-served community organizations to provide needed oral health screenings, fluoride varnish applications, comprehensive oral health education, and dental referrals.
- The classroom experience provides the dental students the ability to develop, implement, and evaluate, as well as learn the importance of financing a community-based educational project. Additionally, the dental students learn how to compare and contrast different types of safety net clinics, and analyze administration, funding, and organizational roles.
Through the Community Dentistry experience, ATSU-ASDOH collaborates with more than 50 local community organizations to enrich communities and benefit at-risk or underserved individuals. Organizations include Title I schools, long-term care facilities, domestic violence shelters, Boys & Girls Clubs, homeless shelters, and several other non-profit and social service organizations.
Annually, ATSU-ASDOH students participate in more than 90 community outreach events, serve more than 10,000 at-risk and underserved individuals, and engage in more than 3,600 community service hours.
Smiles Across Pinal County
Smiles Across Pinal County is a school-based sealant program that provides preventive dentistry and serves as an internal clinical rotation for third-year ATSU-ASDOH students. The program provides dental sealants, fluoride varnish applications, oral health screenings, oral health education, and dental referrals for at-risk and under-served second-, third-, sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade children in the Apache Junction Unified School District in Pinal County, Arizona.
During this experience, ATSU-ASDOH students provide care to pediatric patients in a non-traditional setting using portable equipment. Annually, the program donates $76,000 in preventive services to more than 400 children.
Currently, Delta Dental of Arizona provides primary resources and funding for the program. Community partners include three elementary schools and one junior high school in the Apache Junction Unified School District.