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Giving Dental Care

Carlos Munoz-Viveros, chair of the Department of Restorative Dentistry, examines a boy who has his mouth wide open.

Carlos Muñoz-Viveros, chair of restorative dentistry, and Shirley Triplet worked with more than 500 patients during an outreach in the Dominican Republic.

“Ninety-nine percent of the people we treat have never had dental care. The one percent who have say we were the ones who treated them in the past.”
Jude Fabiano
School of Dental Medicine clinical associate professor and former Buffalo Outreach Community Assistance faculty advisor

Even small gifts can mean the world.

That’s what more than 300 UB dental students and residents have learned through Buffalo Outreach Community Assistance (BOCA), a School of Dental Medicine program that provides free dental care in communities from Appalachia to West Africa that lack access to services.

As of 2011, students and supervising faculty members in BOCA have examined more than 12,000 patients, performing nearly 8,000 dental restorations and 11,000 extractions—work valued at $3.2 million. Patients abroad have included residents of the Dominican Republic, Ghana, Mexico, Guatemala and Tonga in the South Pacific.

Many of the people BOCA treats have never received dental care before.

In Sosua, a small village in the Dominican Republic, patients were so appreciative of BOCA’s services that they embraced their dentists after appointments. In Belize, a grateful prison inmate hugged the student volunteer who restored his smile, fixing four cracked teeth.

While patients are BOCA’s most important beneficiaries, the dentists who take part in missions benefit as well. Student volunteers gain hands-on experience in dentistry and acquire important cross-cultural skills.

 

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