News Releases

USC School of Dentistry Mobile Clinic To Provide Oral Health Care Services to Homeless Veterans

Los Angeles Dentists Recognized for Statewide Community Health Care

August 01, 2008

Los Angeles — A team of dentists and endodontic residents from the University of Southern California School of Dentistry is heading up oral health care services for close to 500 homeless veterans during the East Bay Stand Down, August 7-10.

“We are honored to provide care to these veterans who have put their lives on the line for our country,” says Dr. Thomas Levy, associate professor with the USC School of Dentistry and organizer of the 350-mile caravan to the Alameda County Fairgrounds. “It is our hope that at the end of the day we can bring them comfort, the ability to eat, a healthier smile and an improved quality of life.”

According to organizers of the East Bay Stand Down, this is the first time a dental school has taken part in the program.

The vets will receive their care inside the 36-foot USC Mobile Unit known as the “Annie,” an operational dental clinic on wheels powered by a diesel generator. It is fully equipped with three chairs, X-ray equipment and other supplies the team needs to carry out its job during the trip to the Bay Area.

Levy is familiar with providing care in a non-traditional setting. Each year, Levy leads a team of students and faculty to Central America. They have provided care to hundreds of children and adults who would otherwise not be able to receive much-needed oral health care in their country.

“We are not sure what type of problems we may face when we reach the Bay Area; these veterans have been living under difficult conditions that have included restricted diets and limited access to health care. Our team is prepared to perform root canals, composite buildups, possible surgeries and extractions,” Levy adds. “This is the best training our residents could receive; they’re practicing endodontics under more difficult conditions without all the tools they’d have in the clinic. At the end of the day, this will be a win-win for both the patients we treat and our students — the veterans will leave pain-free, with a higher self esteem, and our students will gain the confidence in their abilities as a dental professional.”

Providing care to veterans is nothing new for USC. For more than 20 years, the USC School of Dentistry has provided services to thousands of veterans in the Los Angeles and Long Beach area in conjunction with the L.A. Outpatient Clinic Veterans Administration, the Veterans Administration Long Beach Healthcare System, the Union Rescue Mission and the Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center. “We are honored to be able to join this effort; oral health care is critical to ensuring the well-being of these men and women,” says Santosh Sundaresan, clinical assistant professor in Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Epidemiology with the USC School of Dentistry.

“We are grateful to have received such overwhelming support from corporation partners, Brasseler USA, Tulsa Dental and Sybron Dental, who provided some of the supplies and equipment we needed to care for the veterans’ needs,” adds Levy.

The School of Dentistry is recognized nationally for its extensive community outreach programs. During its 43-year history, the USC Mobile Dental Clinic has provided dental treatment to more than 82,000 children from low-income families in California, from Bakersfield to the Mexican border. In 2006-2007, the Mobile Clinic provided $1.7 million in dental care at no cost to patients’ families. For more information, go to

Background on the Stand Down

“Stand down” is a term used during war to describe the practice of removing combat troops from the field and taking care of their basic needs in a safer area. The East Bay Stand Down (EBSD) brings together needy and homeless veterans into a safe, if only temporary, encampment for the same purpose. The EBSD began in 1999 at Camps Parks in Dublin, Calif. This year, a “tent city” will be erected at the Alameda County Fairgrounds to house as many as 500 veterans — men and women and their families. Many of these veterans have had little or no contact with Veterans Affairs for either monetary or medical benefits, nor with other agencies that could provide assistance. During the four-day event, services will include medical and dental care, counseling, and assistance with adjudicating legal problems. For more information, go to

Contact: Angelica Urquijo at (213) 740-6568 (office) or (213) 271-4189 (cell)

University of Southern California
School of Dentistry