Bulletin of Dental Education

UAB SOD Teams Up to Serve, Overcome Obstacles to Better Oral Health

 Permanent link   All Posts

UAB Logo Aug 2018Far from a lazy midsummer morning, the Birmingham, AL, WorkPlay soundstage was bustling with volunteers, sponsors and program staff who came together on July 10 for the city’s first TeamSmile event. University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry (UAB SOD) teamed up with current and former UAB football players and other partners for a program that capitalizes on the excitement and allure of high-profile sports to provide a life-changing dental experience to children in need.

“It is rewarding for our faculty and students to be able to share their expertise in partnership with likeminded organizations and it’s a fantastic experience for our D4 students on their second day of class,” says Michelle Robinson, D.M.D., M.A., UAB SOD Interim Dean. “This is one of the many community outreach activities we take on each year and it is especially meaningful to serve at-risk children, like those of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.”

UAB Photo 1The youth who participate are at high risk for dental disease, yet they have limited access to care. So when offered a day of free dentistry, the Boys & Girls Clubs organization embraced the opportunity for their kids to participate. Yet, their resources are so compromised that at the 11th hour, one more hurdle to their participation arose.

“The dental chairs were all set for the first patients to arrive,” explains Conan Davis, D.M.D., M.P.H., Assistant Dean for Community Collaborations and Public Health. “As more than 90 faculty, fourth-year dental students and community volunteers gathered for a busy day of service, we learned the [children] might not make it after all.” As it turns out, someone had shot out the windows of the Boys & Girls Clubs bus the night before they were to transport the children for care.

“That did not stop the team. Everyone sprang into action and redirected efforts,” Dr. Davis remarks.
The athletes quickly helped pull in youth from other neighborhood programs while the dentistry team led the new participants in oral health education and activities. Meanwhile, TeamSmile organizers worked with Boys & Girls Clubs personnel to arrange alternate transportation. Although late, many of the original children made it for treatment after all—with a little help from a local church.

UAB Photo 2“Everyone pulled together to do a great thing,” says Dr. Robinson. “It was an enjoyable day collaborating with TeamSmile, the Boys & Girls Clubs and so many others to overcome obstacles and make the event a huge success.”

All told, nearly 100 needy children learned the value of a lifelong commitment to dental health. That goes to show that the old adage “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” still holds true—especially on an eventful summer day in Birmingham.

Contributed by Lynne Jarreau, Director of Communications, UAB School of Dentistry

Published on August 8, 2018

Duggan ad 2013