2017 Dentistry in the Community Grant Spotlight: Arizona

Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health (ASDOH) was honored to have received the Dentistry in the Community Grant in 2017. When the applications rolled out for the national grants, we were having discussions with the organization Ability360 to provide an oral health event for them. We received the grant in early 2017, and we were on our way to change the world. Our program is known for its dedication to the community, and providing to the underserved areas of Phoenix is what we set out to do.

Ability360 is located in Phoenix and offers programs to people with disabilities so they may achieve or continue independent lifestyles within the community. We wanted to set up an event that would allow ASDOH students to provide dental screenings, oral cancer exams, fluoride varnish treatment and oral health education. This was a step up from our normal community service events, as we have not provided fluoride varnish treatment before.

We first volunteered at Ability360 by giving an oral health instruction presentation; we also attended a health fair they hosted and distributed dental supplies to the members. Jumping right into a dental screening event would have been a shot in the dark, and I’m glad we took our time to bring this type of service to them.

Yet two months after we received the grant, the event date still wasn’t set. There was a lot more work than initially expected, mostly because we were setting up a volunteer event that would provide a specific dental treatment for the first time. Making sure we had faculty present was essential, and that had to match up with times that we could reserve a room at Ability360. After multiple delays in our event, we finally set a date for Nov. 11, which is Veteran’s Day. We wanted to provide dental treatment to these members, specifically veterans who were a part of Ability360.

Our goal was to use our D1 and D2 class as the main volunteers and then have D3s serve as mentors during the dental screening process. We had a great number of volunteers: two D3s, four D2s and one D1. During the event, we saw that we weren’t only helping our patients but also these students. This was a great moment that ignited a love for community service within ASDA for some underclassmen.

Our event was a success, and we served the Ability360 community to the best of our abilities. In the future, we hope to bring more dental treatment to this population in Arizona. I believe that starting at a basic level and slowly progressing up is the way to bring care to underserved populations.

Our relationship has grown stronger with Ability360 because we received this Dentistry in the Community Grant from ASDA. It not only gave us the funds to buy our supplies, but it also provided support from national ASDA to serve our community.

~ Taylor Velasquez, Arizona ’19, chapter president

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About Taylor Velasquez

Taylor Velasquez is the ASDA chapter president at the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health. He is a third-year dental student, pursing his DMD and MPH. Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, he attended Arizona State University, where he met his wife, Brooke. He enjoys playing fold and reading during his free time.

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