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Making Smiles Happen

Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic offers free oral health care for older adults with support from the Carl C. Anderson Sr. & Marie Jo Anderson Charitable Foundation.


Students from the Hunt School of Dental Medicine sank their teeth into a good cause, filling a gap in oral health care one tooth at a time.


Supervised by faculty, the students have been providing free dental screenings and cleanings to patients 55 and older from El Paso and Southern New Mexico at the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic since 2023, thanks to the Anderson Charitable Foundation Senior Dental Fund.



The fund was establishment through a $10,000 grant from the Carl C. Anderson Sr. & Marie Jo Anderson Charitable Foundation, which funds nonprofit organizations in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. But that was just the start.


Inspired, Harold Hahn, chairman of Rocky Mountain Mortgage Co., and his wife, Beth Hahn, generously matched the donation with a $10,000 gift resulting in a total of $20,000 in funding. Adolpho and Debbie Telles, prominent community leaders in El Paso, were also moved by the fund's purpose and contributed $7,000 to further its impact.

For community members, the opportunity to get work done on their smiles has been too good to pass up by many.

“I felt at home, like I was with family,” said San Elizario resident Lidia Rocio Ruiz, who drove 45 minutes for a free screening and cleaning at the oral health clinic.


Ruiz became emotional as she described interactions during her care — students not only gave her confidence in her smile but also formed a quick bond with her.


“I was extremely nervous. But the students treated me like they knew me already. That calmed me down,” Ruiz said tearfully, adding she had been looking for a dentist in our Borderplex for the past two years and decided to take advantage of one of events in January.


Within the last year, the Oral Health Clinic has hosted several special events for those 55 and older, providing dental services to 306 patients. These services include screenings, cleanings, fluoride application, imaging, extractions and debridement. The Senior Dental Fund has covered the costs for 76 older adults during these events.


Many older adults across West Texas suffer from poor dental health due to a lack of access to affordable care. Reduced-cost dental care at the oral health clinic helps our older Borderplex residents establish routine dental care, which benefits their overall health.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular dental care is

recommended for all older adults, even those with full dentures. However, Medicare doesn’t

cover routine dental care, so older adults may have trouble accessing care.



“Nine out of 10 older adults have cavities, and unfortunately, only one out of six get their

cavities treated,” said Fady F. Faddoul, D.D.S., M.S.D., associate dean of clinical affairs. “These cases are more common within the Hispanic population throughout our Borderplex community.”


 

Making smiles


Established in 2021, the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic has served as the clinical practice of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine. In the three short years since its establishment, the dental community across the nation has taken notice of the school for its innovative curriculum, which offers first-year students hands-on training and an early introduction to patient care.


The benefits of early hands-on experience in addressing this need have been apparent in the expert treatment each patient received during these special events.


Since the clinic opened, students and faculty have treated more than 6,000 patients, providing over 37,000 hours of clinical care to our Borderplex residents.


This year, the clinic will add a fourth class to the school. Four full-time cohorts of student

dentists translate into more patients seen and treated. These new patients can be assured that they will receive the same personalized, top-tier care Ruiz received.


“By the end, I was asking them if I could attend their graduation,” Ruiz said with a laugh.

As over 75% of dental school graduates open practices near their dental schools, Ruiz can be

assured that her dentist will be around for a while.



 

About the Carl C. Anderson Sr. and Marie Jo Anderson Charitable Foundation


Established in 2003, the Carl C. Anderson Sr. and Marie Jo Anderson Charitable Foundation has invested more than $70 million in nonprofit organizations to assist them in serving the most vulnerable, focusing on children and youth, seniors, and people with disabilities.


 

About the Hunt School of Dental Medicine


The Hunt School of Dental Medicine opened in 2021 and is the only dental school on the U.S.- Mexico border, and the first in Texas to open in more than 50 years. The school offers the most innovative curriculum in the country, preparing students for the future of dentistry with high- tech simulation and an advanced fabrication laboratory. A first for any dental school in the nation, students begin clinical training and patient interaction during their first semester. It’s also the first and only dental school in the nation that requires Spanish language courses.


 

YOU CAN HELP

Help transform health care in our community and beyond by making a gift to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. CLICK HERE to learn how to give.

At TTUHSC El Paso, we are committed to growing our own health care heroes and changing the state of health care in our Borderplex. For more information about how you can help, please contact andrea.tawney@ttuhsc.edu or craig.holden@ttuhsc.edu or visit ttuhscep.edu/elpaso/ia/giving/.


 

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