Indiana dental students partner with VA Medical Center

This past spring, Indiana University School of Dentistry’s ASDA chapter was awarded one of the Dentistry in the Community Grants presented by Colgate. Our goal was to create a new event and partnership, targeting our local veteran population.

The Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center is a short walk away from our dental school. It serves the veterans of Indianapolis, receives referrals from VA facilities across the state and operates three Community-Based Outpatient Clinics. The veteran population of Indiana experiences barriers to care due to lack of transportation, affordability and limited access to dental providers.

Our event provided attendees with an interactive luncheon that included Colgate oral health care products, oral health education, resources our school offers veteran patients and one-on-one connections with dental student volunteers. 

To execute the event, we organized a team of dental students, alongside Dr. Jenna Voegele as our primary contact at the VA Medical Center and Dr. Diane Buyer as our featured guest speaker. Having a team of dental students there was critical. Each volunteer talked with different veterans, giving helpful information about our school’s resources. For example, we have a specific veterans’ program that provides basic surgical, restorative and prosthetic treatment for those who have Honorably Discharged status and low income. 

Working with Dr. Voegele at the VA was vital in getting our event off the ground, as we had to reserve space at the hospital, get contact information for advertising through the VA and complete required paperwork. Dr. Buyer presented interactive content via her American Dental Association-recognized campaign “Drinks Destroy Teeth.” We used the “Drinks Destroy Teeth” app to see how much sugar is in different beverages and the pH levels of various drinks. Additionally, at each table, we displayed bottles with corresponding sugar amounts, such as Gatorade, coke and root beer. We also set up eggs soaked in different drinks to show the effects on enamel.

For me, one of the coolest aspects of an event like this is seeing the potential it has to grow in the future. Anytime an event occurs for the first time, there are always obstacles such as advertising to a new population, budgeting, and general interest from volunteers and attendees. Thanks to the support of Colgate and ASDA, we established a partnership and successful first event with the veterans in our community. It is my goal to see more events happen in the future with our VA Medical Center, providing different guest speakers and lecture topics.

~Sydney Twiggs, Indiana ’21

Sydney Twiggs

I am a third year dental student at the Indiana University School of Dentistry. Prior to dental school I attended Indiana University-Bloomington where I received a Bachelor of Science in Biology with minors in Dance, Psychology, and Spanish. In addition to my involvement with ASDA I serve as my school's American Association of Women Dentists (AAWD) Chapter President, as well as our Kid's Club Co-President. Post dental school I hope to pursue a career in orthodontics. Outside of dentistry I love yoga, wake-boarding, and playing the ukulele.

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