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Program Provides Oral Care for Abuse Victims

Written by Adam Zewe and Marcelena S. Holmes, MPA, MA

J. Daniel Gibson, president of the Class of 2011, believes that dentistry can be used to change lives. As a result, Gibson leads an outreach program at UMDS that provides free comprehensive oral care to victims of domestic violence. Working with Dr. Isabel Rambob and Dr. Vanessa Anseloni, UMDS has partnered with the House of Ruth, a domestic violence shelter in Baltimore, to treat abuse victims in the Special Care Clinic every week.

Recently, Dan and his classmates removed braces brackets from a woman who had worn them for more than 10 years. "The results were incredible. You couldn't wipe the smile off her face. It was a really great feeling," he says.

Protecting the patients' privacy is crucial, since any public exposure could disclose a patient's whereabouts to a potential attacker. Working in pairs, the four students perform deep cleanings, fillings and have even made dentures. Students learn more than dental skills, explains Dr. Rambob. "This is an opportunity to really see the human being behind the teeth," she states.

Dan hopes to expand the partnership and invite children from The House of Ruth to the school to learn more about oral hygiene. Gibson is confident the program will thrive after he graduates this spring. "It fulfills a commitment we have as professionals to give back to our community," he remarks.

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