Kudos: Student dentists hone skills by treating local homeless

Living on the streets makes everything tougher — including visiting the dentist. That’s why faculty and students from San Francisco’s Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry recently paid a visit to Project Homeless Connect and offered free dental services to clients who needed them.

“For a lot of them, it’s been years since they’ve been to a dentist,” said Tayla Klein, spokeswoman for the dental school, which operates under the umbrella of the University of the Pacific. “I had one client who pulled three of his own teeth.”

Student dentists screened 50 homeless clients during their visit, and performed oral surgery on 17 — tooth extractions in most cases, necessitated by abscessed or worndown teeth, according to Klein.

“One of the misconceptions is that dental care is optional, but it can lead to other health problems,” Klein said.

Students and staff from the school routinely work with Project Homeless Connect to provide services to clients. Not only does it provide free dental work to those who need it, but it allows the students to practice their burgeoning skills and dental-chair-side manner, according to Klein.

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