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Second-Year Dental Students Participate in Project Saving Smiles

Friday, December 6, 2013 - 11:09am

UTSD students Jedidiah Allen, Bryan Sendelbach, Terrall Thurman, Helia Koleini and Gazelle Shabani (in blue) listen as Dr. Johanna DeYoung, assistant Director, Children and Family Services, Houston Department of Health and Human Services, briefs Project Saving Smiles volunteers.

UTSD students Jedidiah Allen, Bryan Sendelbach, Terrall Thurman, Helia Koleini and Gazelle Shabani (in blue) listen as Dr. Johanna DeYoung, assistant Director, Children and Family Services, Houston Department of Health and Human Services, briefs Project Saving Smiles volunteers. 

University of Texas School of Dentistry students Jedidiah Allen, Helia Koleini, Bryan Sendelbach, Gazelle Shabani, Tae Song and Terrall Thurman participated in Project Saving Smiles at Good Neighbor Healthcare Center earlier this fall in connection with a new course, “DENF 2501 Second Year Fall Clinic,” directed by Associate Professor Deborah Franklin, DDS, MA, of the Department of General Practice and Dental Public Health.

City of Houston Sharpstown Health Services and City of Houston La Nueva Casa de Amigos Dental Clinic have also served as clinical sites for the course, marking “a rebuilding of a partnership with City of Houston clinics,” Franklin said. “It was also the first time second-year students have delivered patient education to adult patients at these clinics.”

Second-year dental students Helia Koleini, Tae Song and Jedidiah Allen used teaching tools to educate children about oral health at Project Saving Smiles.

Second-year dental students Helia Koleini, Tae Song and Jedidiah Allen used teaching tools to educate children about oral health at Project Saving Smiles.

Project Saving Smiles is a city-wide effort to provide dental screenings, dental sealants, fluoride varnish and oral health education free of charge to second-graders enrolled in the free or reduced-cost lunch program, and who have written parental consent. 

A 2001 Dental Needs Assessment in Harris County revealed that nearly 46 percent of second-graders had untreated tooth decay, and it is known that children who suffer from oral health problems cannot learn well in school. Project Savings Smiles aims to reduce dental cavities and decay in low-income students and decrease school absences by decreasing oral pathology.