Current Issue

Pacific Center for Equity in Oral Health Care Expands Focus While Building on the Past

From its founding in 1990, the Pacific Center for Special Care prioritized and launched programs to address disparities in oral health and to promote diversification of the dental workforce. Notable work included the development of alternative care delivery models such as teledentistry; advocacy and integration of oral health programs into the California Regional Center system; implementation of the Pipeline Program to diversify applicants to dental schools; and the first online program for registered dental hygienists in alternative practice.

Today, the center has a new name and a new director, but continues with the same commitment to addressing the needs of the underserved. Now known as the Pacific Center for Equity in Oral Health Care, the center builds on this legacy by continuing to address the needs of those who require special care, and also the needs of a broader segment of the population that is vulnerable to disparities in health care—an issue which became overwhelmingly evident in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The school recently named Dr. Elisa Chávez, professor in the Department of Diagnostic Sciences, as director of the center.

“The Pacific Center is here to support and celebrate the work of all those at the Dugoni School of Dentistry who work to improve health outcomes for patients with special and complex needs; develop new models for delivery of care and dental education that cultivate diversity, equity and inclusion; and advocate for a more equitable distribution of resources for oral health care within the broader healthcare system,” said Chávez.

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As one example of the Pacific Center’s recent activities, the Dugoni School of Dentistry and the California Dental Association gathered together a group of experts and stakeholders in October 2019. The group conducted a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of oral health needs, dental education, workforce, financial and reimbursement structures and legislative opportunities as they relate to older adults in California. The proceedings, authored by Chávez, Dr. Michelle Brady and Dr. Paul Subar, have recently been published in the Journal of the California Dental Association and are available online at

To learn more, visit the Pacific Center’s website at or email

Dugoni School Commemorates 125th Anniversary

photo of the original campus
Where it all began: 818 Howard Street

In 1896, the College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S) took up residency at 818 Howard Street, between Fourth and Fifth Streets. The college, which only remained there for three years before relocating to the Mission District, was the beginning of the school’s storied history in San Francisco. Now, 125 years later, the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry is just around the corner from where we started, yet we have come a long way.

This year, we are recognizing our anniversary in a variety of ways, starting with a special commemorative logo that will be featured in school communications and will extend to upcoming activities such as the 2022 Annual Alumni Meeting. Look for a special issue of Contact Point this coming spring that will be themed around the 125-year milestone.

White Coat Ceremonies Celebrate Students’ Commitment to Integrity in Patient Care

It was a double-celebration day when students in the DDS, IDS and Dental Hygiene programs were officially welcomed into the clinical portion of their studies during two White Coat Ceremonies held August 21 at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco. The in-person events were especially meaningful as last year’s ceremony for the DDS and IDS Class of 2022 had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ceremonies included a pledge to uphold professional integrity and remarks from professional leaders, including Dr. Judee Tippett-Whyte ’86, president of the California Dental Association; Heidi Coggan, president of the California Dental Hygienists’ Association; and assistant professor and attorney Nick Forooghi, who spoke about ethics in the profession.

Family and friends from across the country and around the globe were also able to watch livestreams of the ceremonies, which are currently available on the school’s YouTube channel at or you can watch below.


Public Service Announcement Campaign Spotlights the Importance of Oral Health

The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry is taking an active role in educating the Bay Area public about the importance of oral health care, especially for those who may have had to put off appointments and procedures because of the pandemic.

Through outreach across numerous local media outlets, the school’s public service campaign, “Dental Care is Essential Care,” encourages people to get back on track with their dental routines. Messaging also highlights the connection between oral health and overall health, and includes information about the clinical services the school offers to the public.

Posters were installed across San Francisco’s Muni and San Mateo County’s SamTrans public transit systems during the summer, with an additional Muni campaign scheduled for October through December. The school’s marketing and communications team secured the advertising space at no cost to the school as part of the transit agencies’ probono PSA program for non-profit organizations.

The campaign also includes digital messaging to the public via the community platform, a sponsored “Oral Health Minute” segment on KRON-4 TV and sponsored digital stories about oral health on through a partnership with Hearst Bay Area. Recent media interviews have included an appearance by Assistant Professor Natasha Lee ’00, former president of the California Dental Association, who discussed the importance of oral health on NBC Bay Area’s Asian Pacific America TV show.

Watch Dr. Lee’s interview below.