The Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine recently received the 2013 Leaders in Oral Health award from the Healthy Smiles for Kids of Orange County.

The College was one of three recipients of the award, and was singled out “for encouragement of dental vocations in a public health setting.”

“Even though we’re a very young school, we have quickly gained a reputation for taking our service into the community, outside the four walls of our university,” said College of Dental Medicine Dean Steven W. Friedrichsen, DDS. “We received this award because we are creating for students firsthand experience with the non-tangible rewards of community dentistry, including working with Special Olympics.”

Dean Friedrichsen and Associate Dean for Community Partnerships and Access to Care Timothy Martinez, DMD, accepted the award on behalf of the College of Dental Medicine.

“Dr. Martinez is the personal champion for this effort,” Friedrichsen said. “He is a passionate role model for our students.”

Healthy Smiles for Kids of Orange County was established in 2001 by the Children and Families Commission and regional community members who sought to address the county’s oral health crisis. In June 2003, Healthy Smiles received its official independent non-profit status, and in 2005 found a permanent home at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC Children’s) Garden Grove Health and Dental Center

WesternU approached Healthy Smiles in 2012 in search of rotation opportunities for interested senior dental students, according to Healthy Smiles for Kids of Orange County. It was a new concept for undergraduate students to arrange independent study in a community setting, but developing a social conscious is something that WesternU’s College of Dental Medicine takes seriously. By valuing underserved populations and the community clinic, their visionary thinking set a new precedent in connecting students to the communities around them. Healthy Smiles is proud to be a part of this exceptional program and applauds Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Dental Medicine for their emphasis on “meeting the needs of the community through assessment, education and preventative programs” and “extensive community-based clinical education.”