Students with the Dental College of Georgia will soon revive a popular outreach program for the community by offering free dental screenings at a weekend shopping destination.
Starting Aug. 28, dental students and DCG faculty will volunteer on some weekend days at the DCG booth at Barnyard Flea Market to offer visual oral inspections to check for signs of dental disease or gum disease and determine if a visitor requires a referral to a dental practice for cleaning, further assessment or treatment.
Dr. Kim Capehart, interim chair of the Department of General Dentistry, is organizing the fall screenings, managing the student scheduling and recruiting faculty volunteers. Clinics offering free screenings like this one are part of yearly opportunities for dental students to receive practical educational feedback, impact public health and raise awareness about DCG programs and patient services.
“It will be more rewarding than the students may realize once they meet and screen those in our community,” Capehart said. “I know I always feel humbled by the opportunity to share my knowledge, skills and compassion.”
Capehart also said it feels good to be able to offer face-to-face care after the required health precautions of the past year.
Student volunteers will be overseen by faculty while working to identify signs of oral disease, including tooth decay, gum disease, abscess or injury. Oral health screenings take only a few minutes and do not involve making diagnoses that lead to treatment plans. Volunteers will provide guidance for patients who present with issues that need addressed and will also help identify new patients for DCG student clinics.
“I feel the primary purpose of the screening is altruistic to give back to the community. But it will be beneficial to set up the free screening year-round that can help to not only recruit, but also raise awareness to the CSRA that there is a dental school just down the road,” Capehart said.
Capehart said he’s grateful the students are getting these opportunities to interact with the community while gaining public health experiences.
“I think relationship building — regardless of in dental school, the classroom, the clinic or in our community — is one of the most important things we can teach our students,” he said. “I feel it also teaches the students how fortunate they are that they possess a unique set of skills that can benefit their community greatly. In return, the patients entrust DCG and the students for their expertise, so a mutually beneficial relationship.”
Capehart said he has received nothing but positive feedback from the patients and volunteers.
“The impact that this makes is both tangible and intangible. Patients screened are not only instructed of potential issues they did not know about, but when the patients see how much our students care, that is what really impresses me and the patients,” he said.
Screenings are open to everyone. Walk-ins are welcome. Visit Booth G10 at Barnyard Flea Market at 1625 Doug Barnard Pkwy from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 28, Sept. 12, Sept. 25, Oct. 16, Nov. 6 and Nov. 21.