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Alumni Profile: Dr. Dunn Gets to the Heart of Dentistry

Written by Adam Zewe

Stephen Dunn, DDS '83, practices dentistry with a lot of heart. Each year, he opens his Ocala, Fla., dental practice to underserved members of the community during the Dentistry from the Heart Program.

Dr. Dunn launched Ocala's first Dentistry from the Heart Program four years ago. During the day-long outreach event held every April, volunteer dentists, hygienists and assistants collaborate to provide free dental care at Dr. Dunn's practice.

Local dental professionals, as well as practitioners and dental students from across Florida, work together to treat underserved patients. They provide free fillings, extractions and cleanings, with no income verification required. "A real camaraderie exists among the volunteers. We make a lot of good friends," Dr. Dunn remarks.

Each year during Dentistry from the Heart, patients begin lining up outside Dr. Dunn's office before 6 a.m. Throughout the busy morning and afternoon, volunteers treat more than 200 adults and children. For Dr. Dunn, it is rewarding to provide essential dental care for patients who face such dire needs. However, he has not been surprised by the high turnout of patients, especially children. "There's really a big need for this kind of service in Marion County. There's a cry for better access to dental care for children throughout Florida," he says.

Dr. Dunn's personal mission is to serve his community. He strives to promote strong values in young people through his volunteer work as a religious education instructor at Queen of Peace Catholic Church. He has been involved in religious instruction since he was a dental student, and continued to teach after graduation during his three-year service in the Army Dental Corps. Since establishing his practice in Ocala in 1988, Dr. Dunn maintains his commitment to helping young people build strong moral foundations.

He also serves his community as board president and member of The Centers, an organization that provides mental health services for more than 20,000 adult and pediatric patients in the Ocala area each year. Dr. Dunn takes an active role in advocating for better treatment of mental illness.

He is grateful for the opportunities he has had to improve the oral health of his patients, while serving the greater needs of his community. Dr. Dunn is proud of the strong career foundation he received from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. Through his volunteer work in the classroom, the board room and the operatory, Dr. Dunn shows his gratitude by giving back. "I really enjoy serving. I get a lot of gratification out of helping others," he concludes.

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