Filling the Gap: Students Learn and Patients Benefit from Denture Block Program

In what has become an annual event, second-year DDS and IDS students joined forces to provide complete denture prosthodontic services to a group of underserved individuals. Last November, the Fall 2012 Denture Block culminated with the delivery of new sets of dentures to 30 pre-identified individuals at no cost to the patients.

Launched in 2010 as a collaboration between the school and San Francisco’s Project Homeless Connect, Denture Block initially aimed to counter the lost treatment and educational opportunities for dental students and dependent patients resulting from elimination of many adult DentiCal benefits. Since then, the program has expanded its reach to include an underserved population of patients who are missing their natural dentition and cannot afford dentures. Patients are now referred to the program from numerous Bay Area social service agencies and religious groups, as well as by word of mouth.

The complete Denture Block experience includes five consecutive Friday appointments involving groups of five students and one regular or adjunct faculty mentor for each appointment. Faculty members include Bay Area prosthodontists and department staff from preclinical courses.

Drs. Peter Hansen and Eugene LaBarre, associate professors in the Department of Integrated Reconstructive Dental Sciences, spearheaded the fall project, which involved 30 patients and 160 dental students. Invaluable assistance was provided by Doris Bailey, clinic operations manager, and the clinical administrative staff together with Olga Matveyeva in the dental laboratory.

The Denture Block is funded in part through the generosity of private donors David and Jane Jackson, the Middleton Foundation and Richard and Linda Leao; corporate support from and the Myerson Corporation; and interest from an endowment from Dr. Henry Sutro ’50. The dental school contributes support staff, supplies and other clinic resources.

“The Denture Block experience is replete with unanticipated appreciation for involved students and patients,” said Hansen. “These emotional responses result from the satisfaction the students receive from — for the first time — providing treatment which so dramatically affects a person’s quality of life and sense of self-worth.”

Future Denture Block programs remain contingent on funding. The school hopes to continue the program due to overwhelming positive feedback from all involved. If you would like to support this program, contact the Development Office at 415.929.6431.