Pacific Dugoni students, faculty and alumni joined more than 1,700 volunteers to provide $1.66 million in charitable dental services during CDA Cares at Pomona on November 21-22, 2014. The CDA Foundation and CDA host the event to provide dental services and oral health education at no charge to Californians who experience barriers to care. Dentists and dental professionals provided fillings, extractions, cleanings, oral health education, and full and partial dentures to 1,861 people during the two-day event.
A few current Pacific Dugoni students shared reflections on their experiences volunteering at CDA Cares Pomona.
“We delivered a stay plate on #8 on one patient. She just had the extraction done and was not given pain medications. When we were trying on her stay plate, I could tell that she was in pain because she was trying to hold back the tears. Every time we asked how she was doing, she’d still say that she was fine. That was only one of the few patients I saw that day. Some of the patients drove from two hours away just to get care. Experiences like that remind me why I came to dental school. Nothing compares to the smile you see on people’s faces when they look at their new smile in the mirror. Dentistry, for me, is not just about having the best looking cavity preparation or getting A’s in all my classes. It is about providing service to those who are not fortunate enough to have the means to take care of themselves. One can do dentistry to make other people feel confident about themselves. I do dentistry because it makes me feel good, and it warms my heart when I see a patient smile again.”
- Jacqui Uy, DDS 2016
“Dentists working at CDA events are so open to teaching and patients coming in generously provide the opportunity to learn. I love how dynamic this event is because I can move between departments and assist any number of dentists. What strikes me is that most patients have a full-time job and are contributing members of society who just don’t have the means to take care of some basic dental needs. Patients are so grateful to be able to receive this great service, but they’ll never know how much I honestly cherish my experiences and encounters at CDA Cares.”
- Michelle Nguyen, DDS 2016
“It was my first time volunteering for CDA Cares, and now I know why thousands of volunteers wake up at 5 in the morning and spend their entire day helping out. I worked at the denture station for the majority of the time, and it brought me so much joy see to the look on the patients’ faces when they glanced in the mirror and saw their new smiles for the first time. I spoke with patients who told me that they started lining up for this event at 3 in the morning. This shows me that there is a community who wants to improve their oral health, but truly lack the means to do so. All of the appreciative patients and generous volunteers have rejuvenated my passion for the career that we chose.”
- Sheynie Vo, DDS 2016
“I spent most of my time at CDA Cares Pomona working either in the triage area or guiding patients to the different stops for care. The very first group I took in the early morning said they had been in line since before 4:00 a.m. and were excited to get things started. I was so distracted talking with that first group about the event that I missed taking them to their first stop, routing, and had to backtrack to get them there. To me having that happen wasn’t so bad, as talking with the people was what I love about CDA Cares. The people come from everywhere and every situation and at this event we do all we can to help them. In my time at this event I must have met and seen hundreds of people all in need of some form of help and this is an opportunity to provide some relief. To do that alongside so many other awesome volunteers makes it easy to say that I made the right decision to get involved.”
- Steve Truman, DDS 2016
“The best part about CDA Cares, for me, is always the patients. One patient needed to have 10 of her teeth extracted and was very nervous during the procedure. Half-way through I saw a tear fall down her cheek and asked her if she was feeling pain and she said she was crying cause she felt so embarrassed about the state of her mouth. I held her hand and told her that we were there to help bring back her smile. Taking a break from academics was just what I needed to refocus my energy. I had been to a few CDA Cares events before, but Pomona meant more to me because it was so close to home. Volunteering there, you could clearly see the need.”
- Rosemary Tran, DDS 2016