Dental Student Group Volunteers at Laney College Health Fair

School of Dentistry

The Student National Dental Association–UCSF chapter (SNDA) participated in a community health fair at Laney College in Oakland on September 28.

The health fair offered community residents free health monitoring, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and vision screenings. In addition, organizations offered resources on topics such as nutrition, tobacco use cessation, mental health, children’s health and dental health.

The Alameda County Dental Society (ACDS) partnered with SNDA at UCSF and Alameda Health System to offer dental screenings and oral health resource information. Dr. Norma Solarz and Dr. Pamela Alston represented ACDS.

Dental students conducted outreach, identifying people with concerns and questions about oral health, as well as assisting in the screening.

Although health fair participants were excited about the opportunity to purchase health insurance, some displayed apprehension regarding their oral health status and their perceptions about the affordability of oral health care.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides for the expansion of Medicaid to cover U.S. citizens with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL).

Some adult dental benefits will be reinstated to adult Medi-Cal beneficiaries in May 2014.  However, dental care for adults is not included in the Act’s essential benefit package.

Passers-by who correctly answered questions on topics on the prize wheel won prizes.  Students also had the opportunity to share oral health information, raising participants’ oral health literacy levels in an engaging way.

The dental students gained insight into the magnitude of challenges for adults without the means to pay for dental care.

A recent environmental study of the dental care sector by the American Dental Association (ADA) found that dental benefits coverage for adults has been steadily eroded in the past decade.  The ADA found that since the beginning of the new millennium, more adults in all income groups have been experienced increasing difficulties in affording dental care.Dr. Pamela Alston is a volunteer assistant clinical professor in the department of Orofacial Sciences at UCSF’s School of Dentistry.