The role of the dentist as caregiver or healer is an important consideration for many dental students pursuing a career in dentistry. While the dental profession provides an excellent salary to its clinicians, it is the compassionate and humanitarian aspects of dentistry that appeal to many entering the field. As Thanksgiving approaches, the spirit of giving back is in the heart and minds of dental students across the U.S. Let us look at several organizations that allow you to provide dental services to undeserved communities.
Give Kids a Smile is a charitable program launched by the American Dental Association in 2003. The focus of the event is to provide free dental care for underserved children all over the country. The program has been a staggering success, with over five million kids receiving free oral health services since its inception. About 10,000 dentists and 30,000 other dental team members provide their dental services annually. Give Kids a Smile is credited for raising national awareness about the importance of oral health and overall health and the fact that millions of children do not receive dental care.
Roseman University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine student Mohammed Bawany ('17) participated in the school’s “Give Kids a Smile” event. In an interview with THE NEXTDDS, Mohammad said; “When I reflect back to the ‘Give Kids a Smile’ event, I think of the atmosphere in general in which everyone was there for a single cause and doing their best to try to help some of these people get access to care.”
Mission of Mercy is a non-profit organization who goal is to restore dignity and “healing through love” at mobile clinics, providing free health care and medications. The organization has been providing free healthcare since 1994, and over 25,000 patients are served each year. On November 15 of this year, Mission of Mercy’s Texas branch participated in the 8th Annual Coastal Bend Day of Giving.
THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador Megan Golia (University of Maryland School of Dentistry, '17) attended Maryland’s Mission of Mercy Dental Program. She stated in a blog written about the altruistic event; “The event was unlike anything I have ever experienced, and I really felt a sense of love and community among everyone there. I assisted alongside dental professionals who cared for the patients like they were family, and it was rewarding to see the impact we made in people’s lives.”
Donated Dental Services (DDS) is a program through the Dental Lifeline Network that connects volunteer dentists with disabled, elderly individuals who cannot afford proper dental treatment. The program operates through a volunteer network of more than 15,000 dentists and 3,700 dental labs across the United States. Since its commencement in 1985, DDS has aided over 117,000 people. DDS operates a program in each state. If interested, click here to locate an application for your state.
If you find yourself in the giving spirit for the holidays, volunteer your service to those who need it. The organizations listed above have greatly helped the lives of thousands of individuals who cannot afford dental care. Dentistry is much more than a lucrative profession, but also a field in which millions of people are positively affected with the restoration of oral and overall health. Dentists do not only provide wellness but also happiness.