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Community Health Awareness: VSU Cares 2013

Since embarking upon a new career in the dental industry, I've become increasingly aware of the importance of proper oral health and affordable insurance. It's no secret that a major concern for families today is the rising cost of insurance and the ability to maintain quality yet affordable health care -- which includes dental. Unfortunately, when "primary" health coverage alone is barely affordable many individuals and families forgo adding dental insurance. Not to mention, the collective belief that having and/or maintaining dental insurance is not as important as that of health care insurance. Slowly but surely society is getting away from the old notions but even today, seeing a dentist is commonly viewed as a luxury or add-on bonus to a person's primary health care needs and/or insurance. 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Fact is, getting an oral health exam is no less important to a physical exam. Maintaining proper oral health is crucial to not just our teeth but the entire body. Think about it -- the point of entry for most pathogens and disease is through the oral cavity. Furthermore, the first signs of disease such as cancer and vitamin deficiencies are often initially detected via oral exams conducted by a dental health care professional (dentist, dental hygienist, dental assistant). There are several organizations and initiatives dedicated in a collective effort to not only increase public awareness to the importance of oral health; but to bridge the gap between those with and without access to dental care by providing quality, low to no cost dental/health care services and education within the community.

Not long after completing my internship, volunteer opportunities through such organizations were presented to dental students interested in donating time. One such opportunity is through The Virginia Dental Association Foundation (VDAF) -- a nonprofit organization that offers dental care for Virginians. "The VDAF accomplishes this mission through its three programs, Missions of Mercy, Donated Dental Services, and Give Kids A Smile." After a bit of research I learned the Mission of Mercy (MOM) project recently partnered with a university in my area. Both entities launched the VSU Cares program. All but three volunteer slots were taken so I immediately signed up for this year's event. I'm nervous but really looking forward to serving the community while challenging my current knowledge and skills as a student. :)


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