Dental Lifeline Network • Mississippi and the MDA have partnered on several initiatives to involve dental students in helping people through the Donated Dental Services (DDS) program. These initiatives were born of the DLN • MS Leadership Council, co-chaired by Drs. Hank Singley and Sherry Gwin. The leadership council saw value in starting students in community involvement early in their careers, and also saw the opportunity to help more DDS patients on the waitlist.
One of these initiatives is with the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) School of Dentistry six-week long rural scholarship program, which places fourth-year dental students with a practicing dentist. Some of these dentists are also DDS volunteers who have agreed to help more patients in need while supervising and mentoring a dental student through the treatment plan. To date, DDS volunteers have helped an additional 17 patients through this new partnership, and DLN is working with UMMC to identify and communicate with the dentists to expand this initiative. Not only is this partnership helping more DDS patients, but it is also an invaluable learning experience for the dental students who through this introduction will hopefully become DDS volunteers.
Another initiative was with UMMC’s Dental Mission Week, where students and faculty partnered together to treat individuals that lack access to treatment. The DDS program referred 51 patients to attend dental mission week for treatment, including 22 that needed dentures.
DLN also partners with dental schools across the country through the Brian D. Stone Memorial Award to recognize outstanding graduating dental students who have committed to volunteerism or to helping people with special needs. In 2016, UMMC recognized Dr. Nathan Nunnelee with the Brian D. Stone award, presented by Dr. David Felton.
“Involving dental students in the community teaches them the importance of caring for the needy. The students not only improve their dental skills, but also improve their understanding of access to care,” Sherry Gwin, DLN • MS Leadership Council co-chair and practicing dentist in the UMMC rural scholarship program.