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Dental school helps provide free care in Pikeville for fourth year

More than 120 dental and dental hygiene students and nearly 40 faculty and staff members from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry spent June 9 and 10 in Pikeville, Ky., providing free dental care including cleanings, fillings, extractions and denture repairs, relines and other prosthetic services to underserved populations.

The effort is part of the Remote Area Medical (RAM) Kentucky clinic.

The students helped perform 915 extractions, 296 fillings and 84 cleanings. About a dozen patients received prosthetic care worth more than $4,700.

“Our student doctors gain unequivocal experience in treating a diverse patient population by participating in RAM events. Exposure to such rural communities allows for a heightened degree of effective interaction, awareness, attitude, knowledge and skill in treating underserved patients,” said John Sauk, dean, UofL School of Dentistry.

Working with RAM helps ULSD meet its mission to serve people in need by eliminating oral disease. Besides treating patients, ULSD students and faculty also educate patients so they understand how dental disease affects them and give them personalized preventive measures such as oral hygiene, smoking cessation and healthy eating habits, to help prevent oral disease.

“Though it is hard to determine the change in oral habits after patients leave our chairs, the pain relieved, smiles restored, and words of thankfulness shared, let us know that our goals are being met at the completion of each project,” Sauk said.

Since 2008, the dental school has participated in 11 RAM clinics that have performed more than 5,200 extractions, 1,850 restorations, 409 cleanings, 215 oral cancer screenings and 140 denture repairs.

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