Community Oral Health Honors - First Five

Rasmussen, Lauren, Casey, Andrew F., Cashman, Erin H., Nguyen, Ashten M., Piscitelli, Tiana, Rasmussen, Lauren T., Silver, Danielle
University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Department of Orthodontics, Department of Preventive and Restorative Sciences, Divisions of Community Oral Health & Pediatric Dentistry


The goal of the First Five Honors program was for incoming second-year dental students to learn about community oral health. As part of the honors program, students were required to complete 140 hours at Philadelphia FIGHT and the pediatric clinic as well as complete a quality assurance project. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the First Five program was completed virtually under the supervision of Deanne Wallaert. In place of the in-person experiences, the First Five Team focused on studying three topics within community oral health -- special needs dentistry, racial injustices in dentistry, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on dentistry.


Students met weekly as a group focusing on each of the different topics and invited experts on the subject matters to speak. The speakers included: Dr. Tony Saito DMD, Dr. Mark Wolff DDS, PhD, Matthew Whipple RDN, LDN, Dr. Joan Gluch PhD, RDH, PHDHP, Dr. Linda Tran DDS, MBA, Dr. Jennifer Wynn DDS, Dr. Paulina Nguyen DDS, Dr. Lynne Taiclet DMD, and Dr. Steven Perlman DDS. The First Five team held and presented journal clubs, and reviewed literature relevant to the topics. The students worked to compile a database as a reference of future students, professionals, caregivers and patients as well as an informational video tour of the Personalized Care Suite.


The team created an online database and a patient video tour for the Personalized Care Suite at Penn Dental Medicine. Students gained extensive knowledge on special needs dentistry, racial injustices in dentistry, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on dentistry through research and various literature reviews as well as engagement with speakers.


Through participation in the First Five Honors program, the students gained a more holistic view on how to best care for young patients of all backgrounds and special needs in the community. They also recognized the new challenges presented to patients and providers by the COVID-19 pandemic.