The deep need for affordable, accessible oral healthcare is universal. We see daily evidence of this at our clinics in New Jersey and on our dental missions around the world.
RSDM students and faculty make annual trips to Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Bangladesh to treat patients who live in remote corners where oral healthcare and skilled oral & maxillofacial surgery procedures are unavailable, substandard and unaffordable. Within the past year, we also embarked on an additional mission to the Dominican Republican and travelled to Sri Lanka, where we plan on establishing a temporary clinic for patients disfigured during the nation’s civil war and in need of facial reconstruction. In the U.S., we travel each year to work at an Arizona dental clinic located on a Native American reservation.
Journeys like these not only help patients around the world, they are incomparable learning opportunities for our students, who gain an understanding of worldwide healthcare needs. Many say the missions have had a profound effect on their awareness of global inequities. Because they treat a high volume of patients, who often need more intensive procedures than patients in New Jersey— such as surgical dentistry and complex restorative work—they greatly develop their skills.
At home in New Jersey, where RSDM is the state’s largest oral healthcare provider, we also make a difference.
Since Obamacare took effect in 2014, making pediatric dental care an essential benefit and expanding care for underserved adults, our volume of Medicaid and Medicare patients increase from 30 percent to 50 percent. It allowed us to better serve a population that frequently has no access to dental treatment since most dentists don’t accept Medicaid. Many of our patients live in Newark, one of the most economically disadvantaged cities in the state, where 30 percent of residents live below the poverty level. At our Community-Oriented Dental (CODE) program in South Jersey, fourth-year students treat many disadvantaged patients.
Our Delta Dental Of New Jersey Special Care Center, which treats patients with disabilities, including those with autism, cerebral palsy and mental illness, is one of the only one of its kind in the region. In 2016, we logged nearly 5,000 patient visits.
We have also been leaders in dental treatment for HIV/AIDS patients, receiving federal Ryan White funding since 2002 to increase access to clients in underserved regions.