The Oral Health Improvement through Outreach (OHIO) Project
Outreach that changes lives
Underserved areas in Ohio, both urban and rural, face a range of barriers to accessing oral care. There are geographical barriers, such as long distance, but there are also societal barriers such as lack of transportation, lack of insurance, shortage of health providers, and lack of money for healthcare needs. Underserved populations are likely to experience higher rates of poverty which results in regions with significantly fewer dentists per person and fewer Safety Net dental clinics where Medicaid is accepted.
As part of The Ohio State University’s long-standing community service mission, the College of Dentistry addresses the statewide need for access to care through the OHIO (Oral Health Improvement through Outreach) Project.
Through the OHIO Project, fourth-year dental students spend 43 days providing care in community-based clinics throughout Ohio under the direct supervision of associated faculty. These dentists are often alumni of The Ohio State College of Dentistry. The program benefits both the individuals who need care and the dental students who gain patient-care experience in various settings. Students have an opportunity to experience hospital programs, health department clinics, private practice models, and a mobile dental unit. Students work with seasoned dental assistants through a busy patient schedule and have the ability to observe practice management in a diverse collection of oral health delivery environments. Students graduate with more practice experience, a greater understanding of career choices, and enhanced social awareness gained through firsthand experience.