It was anything but a typical Saturday at the bank. On Oct. 12, inside the lobby of Wilshire Bank in Koreatown, nearly 250 local residents lined up for oral health screening appointments offered free of charge by UCLA School of Dentistry students, residents and faculty.

For many of the primarily Korean participants in the low-income community, this was their first dental check-up in several years and a factor that had prompted the bank to collaborate with UCLA to bring free dental care to its neighbors in a new program set to take place every year for five years.
A $100,000 pledge to the dental school from Wilshire Bank, which is headquartered in Los Angeles but has 28 branches in four states, helped cover the costs of bringing in 30 dental students and 17 supervising faculty and residents who volunteered their services during the inaugural event. The funding also helped pay for topical fluoride treatments and dental home care kits given to those in dire need of dental care.

In addition, the School of Dentistry will contribute more than $100,000 in in-kind donations including faculty time and expertise, and additional supplies and staff support in the school clinic.

But the check-ups at the bank were just the beginning: Of the 250 people who were seen, about half were referred for free follow-up treatment a week later, on Oct. 19, at several of the dental school’s more than a dozen clinics in Westwood, with Wilshire Bank providing the patients with free transportation.

A number of the patients presented very complex cases requiring multiple procedures and treatment from multidisciplinary dental teams.

“I was told by some patients that the service and attention they received at the screening and treatment days were much more thorough than what they experienced at a private dentist,” said Dr. Paulo Camargo, associate dean of clinical dental sciences, who was in charge of coordinating the treatment day.

Ultimately, it is hoped, this collaborative effort will prompt patients from the Koreatown community to maintain their oral health by becoming regular patients of the UCLA dental clinics.

“The partnership we have embarked on with Wilshire Bank is a testament to both organizations’ commitment to the health of the people in the community,” said Dr. No-Hee Park, dean of the dental school. “These screenings and corresponding treatment create an opportunity for those severely lacking in access to receive definitive dental care and oral health education at the UCLA School of Dentistry’s clinics.”

“I could not be happier with the way this event played out,” said Jae Whan Yoo, president and CEO of Wilshire Bank. “The impact that the screening and treatment days made in the community is profound. We are happy to be partnering with UCLA for this meaningful community service to improve the quality of life for these patients. I look forward to next year’s event and extend my sincerest gratitude to Dean Park, school faculty, residents, dental students and all the staff who played a part in pulling this event together.”

Many other corporations also supported the program by donating dental supplies and products.