For over 50 years, the University of Southern California Mobile Dental Clinic has provided dental care to underserved communities in Southern California. Originally developed to help children of migrant workers, the program has served over 80,000 young people to date.
The USC Mobile Dental Clinic teams up with local schools and non-profits to identify children and young adults who qualify for free dental services. Many of the communities served lack access to basic dental care and the USC Mobile Clinic regularly sees teenagers who have never been to the dentist.
Led by Dr. Sunny Sanaz Fereshteh, DDS and Epifania Juarez, the USC Mobile Dental Clinic hosts 10-11 clinics per year. Each clinic lasts 9-10 days, treats 100-120 children and is staffed by Dr. Sunny and a team of USC dental and hygiene students. For many students, it is their first time working in a community health setting, and the experience has a profound impact. Many students love to volunteer for the mobile clinic and do so for several years. Some even choose their clinical specialties based on their experience at the USC mobile clinic.
Dr. Sunny and her team use Pulpdent’s Embrace WetBond Pit & Fissure Sealant and Multi-Cal calcium hydroxide paste. “We love Embrace Sealant and Pulpdent’s Calcium Hydroxide” Dr. Sunny says. “I had a better experience with retention – Embrace Sealant is great for dental students who may have difficulty with isolation.”
The USC Mobile Dental Clinic practices quadrant dentistry and provides cleanings along with root canals, pulpotomies, and fillings. Children requiring extensive treatment may have multiple appointments during the 9-10 day clinic. The clinic does not provide nitrous oxide and patients requiring sedation and/or more complex procedures are referred to clinicians in the local community. More often than not, Dr. Sunny and her team are able to treat most patients. “We have the best patients I’ve ever seen. The most grateful. They know that they’re getting quality treatment” Dr. Sunny says. “There’s no other job like this. It doesn’t even feel like a job.”
While the amount of time required to prepare and run the USC Mobile Clinics may be extensive, Dr. Sunny says that the work is deeply rewarding. She has plans to expand the number of communities served and to offer oral healthcare services to patients with special needs.