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Improving Dental Care Access on the U.S.-Mexico Border

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Marathon Petroleum Corporation has improved oral health care accessibility in our Borderplex region by establishing the Dental Patient Fund at the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic.

Because of Marathon Petroleum’s two gifts of $30,000 in 2021 and $50,000 in 2022 to the clinical practice of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine, the Dental Patient Fund has paid for 672 screenings, including 146 for minors and 457 for the elderly. It has also provided education and follow-up procedures for patients from the 79905 and 79901 ZIP codes, which the university strives to serve.

The donation not only bolstered the capacity of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine and the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic, but also led to established partnerships with the Opportunity Center for the Homeless and The Rescue Mission of El Paso — both located in the 79901 ZIP code.

That partnership has resulted in life-changing experiences for individuals who have never seen a dentist before. Opportunity Center director John Martin has seen first-hand the transformation oral health care provides, by empowering shelter residents to take charge of their health as they move toward re-entering the local workforce.

One 28-year-old came to the Opportunity Center trying to find a better path. He had been living on the streets and had a history of gang and drug problems, mainly methamphetamine use. The man had never been in the dentist’s chair and his molars needed to be removed.

“He had a strong will to improve himself and through the Dental Patient Fund, he got the dental work he needed and everything changed,” Martin said. “He now helps at our facility. If there are elderly men who can’t go to the store, he volunteers to walk and pick up items for them. He now has an outlook on life that is so positive; he’s trying to convince his brother to go down the same path as him.”

Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic in El Paso
Dental school faculty and students work together in the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic.

Because of the Dental Patient Fund, the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic and Hunt School of Dental Medicine students have been instrumental in “helping others to help themselves,” Martin said. It’s the difference affordable dental care can make, bringing a smile that comes from the heart and shines from ear-to-ear.

Since it opened in 2021, the clinic has charted over 5,000 visits from patients across our Borderplex.



It’s only through your encouragement, contributions and endorsements that TTUHSC El Paso can develop and build the Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine. The creation of this program will have a positive impact on the dental and overall health of the Borderplex for generations to come. For more information about how you can help, please contact or or visit

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