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UNLV Dental Students Earn ADA Foundation Tarrson Student Leadership Award

Developed oral health project to aid Nevada National Guard troops, military veterans

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CHICAGO, Feb. 26, 2010—The ADA Foundation awarded its 2009 Bud Tarrson Dental School Student Community Leadership Award to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine in recognition of an oral health treatment program for National Guard troops. The UNLV School of Dental Medicine will receive $5,000 with the award to enhance student education and outreach to underserved populations.

"This selfless effort by these dental students exemplifies what the ADA Foundation and the Tarrson Access to Oral Health Care Award are all about," stated Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni, president, ADA Foundation. "We are improving the lives and dental health of others by connecting people and investing in the human potential of so many individuals."
Created in 2003, in memory of philanthropist Bud Tarrson, former chief executive officer and owner of the John O. Butler Company, the award recognizes one exemplary volunteer community service project developed by dental students enrolled in a predoctoral dental education program. A Chicago native, Mr. Tarrson was a director of the former ADA Health Foundation (now ADA Foundation) from 1994 –1999.

UNLV dental students access to care award project

In 2008, UNLV dental students founded the "Sergeant Clint Ferrin Memorial Clinic" to help meet the oral health needs of National Guard troops deemed non-deployable because of dental problems. Some of these troops cannot access dental care because they are not on active duty, making them ineligible for military benefits. The program has since expanded to include all local military veterans with limited access to dental care.

The first clinic, held in July 2008 at the UNLV School of Dental Medicine, treated 19 patients. Since then, there have been six additional clinics, with approximately 30 patients receiving free treatment at each session, including over 100 veterans. UNLV dental students, supervised by Nevada licensed dentists, provided treatment that included restorations, root canals, extractions, crowns and dentures.

The clinic honors the memory of a UNLV dental student's brother killed in action in 2004, while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Between 2004 and 2008, the Tarrson Award honored outstanding community service on the part of a practicing dentist or lay person. In 2009, the ADA Foundation rededicated the Tarrson Award program to highlight significant dental student outreach to vulnerable communities.

"The new approach to this annual award program supports the efforts and acknowledges the initiative and outreach of dental students across the country," said Linda Tarrson, who initiated the award in honor of her late husband. "Selecting this year's recipient was difficult because there are so many outstanding student programs that are supporting the ideals of professional service and outreach to the community."

She added, "I'm extremely proud of the UNLV program and its students for their desire to go beyond what is expected and to be of service to those in the community who are truly in need of oral healthcare."