Sustaining smiles

Methodist Healthcare Ministries partners with Dental School to serve community

January 2013
by Rosanne Fohn
Mission Magazine, UT Health Science Center

Marissa Lopez wanted to have beautiful teeth, so she and her mother began visiting the Ricardo Salinas Dental Clinic. “I learned to brush my teeth two times a day — in the night and in the morning — to floss and rinse my mouth with mouthwash. And now I have pretty teeth,” the smiling youngster said.

The Dental School’s involvement with the Salinas Dental Clinic began in 2003 as a partnership with Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas Inc. (MHM) and the city of San Antonio, which owns the Salinas Clinic. There, working under faculty supervision, dental students and pediatric dentistry residents provide dental services to children from all areas of San Antonio. “The need for oral health care is critical,” said Kevin Donly, D.D.S., M.S., professor and chair of developmental dentistry.

The clinic is a centerpiece of the Dental School’s outreach education program. It gives students and residents the opportunity to provide comprehensive care, and to learn about the needs of underserved communities and different ways to deliver care. “In a typical year, we provide about five or six procedures per patient during 5,000 patient visits,” Dr. Donly said. As a sustaining partner, MHM has contributed nearly $1.3 million to the clinic since 2002.

This clinic is just one of several long-term partnerships between the Dental School
and MHM:

  • In 2002, MHM and the Dental School began partnering on a school-based prevention program for second graders in the Edgewood Independent School District. MHM’s contributions for the Give Kids a Smile Program includes equipment and supplies valued at nearly $650,000.
  • Since 2005, MHM has supported the Dental School’s clinical education programs in Laredo with grants for planning, equipment and program support totaling nearly $1 million.
  • MHM also has supported pediatric dental services that students and residents provided at the Frank Bryant Clinic on the Eastside since 2005. Funding through 2012 exceeds $1 million.
  • In 2012, MHM began funding a Dental School rotation through San Antonio Christian Dental at Haven for Hope. Funding of $214,088 in 2012 will support 3,000 dental visits.

Kevin C. Moriarty, MHM president and CEO, said, “We firmly believe in the partnership we’ve created with the UT Health Science Center Dental School. We have succeeded because we share the same mission of caring for the least-served in San Antonio and South Texas.”

In all, MHM has provided more than $2.45 million to the Dental School’s outreach education programs in pediatric dentistry, prosthodontics, general dentistry, dental public health and prevention.

Beginning in 1998, MHM also was the driving force in educating the community about the value of fluoride in preventing cavities. As a result, voters approved adding fluoride to the city’s water supply.

In addition to the generous support provided to the Dental School, MHM has been a longtime champion of a multitude of programs throughout the UT Health Science Center including programs in the School of Medicine and School of Nursing.

Bill Dodge, D.D.S., dean ad interim of the Dental School, added, “It would not be an exaggeration to say that together, we have touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, not only through direct patient care, but through all the health care professionals who have received top-notch training from programs and clinics supported by Methodist Healthcare Ministries.”

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