May 22, 2018

The “Mosaic” term represents the diverse cooperation that occurs at UTSD Houston and the partnerships with organized dentistry to serve our community.  The ICD Mosaic Project celebrates our diversity within our dental profession, addressing the need for outreach and inclusion in the healthcare system of vulnerable patients including the homeless, veterans and people with disabilities.
Houston is the most diverse city in North America[1].   We have faculty and students from across the world at our Dental School.  In an effort to unite our students and faculty to serve Texas and Houston, MOSAIC reflects the collaborative spirit that united Houstonians after Hurricane Harvey.   Many faculty lost their homes; students were flooded in their apartments, yet the UTSD Family pulled together and provided weeks of dental services at the George R. Brown Convention Center and helped each other clean the muck from homes.  Our diversity united us.  
After induction in 2016 as fellows into the International College of Dentistry (ICD) three UTSD Faculty sought an opportunity to lead students to a life commitment of service to vulnerable populations through organized dentistry. This MOSAIC concept gave birth to three components: Faculty Diversity Dinners, Student Community Service Projects and International Dental School Service Partnerships. The dinners occur at least every quarter and allow faculty to become mentors to our students and build respectful culture competency.  All UTSD faculty are welcomed to the dinner.  The focus is to welcome new faculty that might not be familiar to Houston and to learn about the cuisine and culture of other countries, our diverse faculty and the MOSAIC community service opportunities with our students.   We encourage all faculty to support the local dental society, UT Alumni Association and have a global impact through MOSAIC service.  The primary goal for MOSAIC for students is to celebrate diversity through collaborative community service outreach to three specific vulnerable groups of people: those that are houseless (homeless), veterans and persons with intellectual disabilities. These vulnerable populations rarely enter the door of a dentist as a patient.  Our different student groups together collected oral hygiene donations at the Star of the South Dental Meeting, made oral health kits, provided oral health screenings at Special Olympics, and served meals at shelters providing oral health instruction and encouragement.
Students participated in the Camp Hope health fair for veterans. The cross-cultural student organizations served in Lakewood Church’s health fair for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and “Give Kids a Smile”.   Mosaic provided impactful awareness of health disparities and social determinants of health for students and faculty by supporting health screenings at veteran’s programs, downtown homeless shelters, State and Local Special Olympics events, the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) national conference poster presentations and at dental meetings.  It is a descriptive term of what UTSD does and the fabric of the most diverse dental school in the most diverse city in America.  The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston, the UTSD Alumni Association, the Greater Houston Dental Association, Houston Community College and all UTSD Student organizations have committed to increase awareness of our School’s diversity, the strength of collaboration and support to community service of professional organizations during and after graduation from dental school. 
Beginning in Houston, this service program is spreading across the state of Texas and catching on quickly.  The ICD Mosaic Project’s first objective is to extend a helping hand to the less fortunate by delivering oral hygiene kits, cancer screenings and dental assistance. Additionally, the ICD Mosaic Project embraces the diversity of the dental community by welcoming individuals and organizations from every facet of our profession.  The ICD MOSAIC’s first partners were The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Dentistry, the UT Alumni Association, the Greater Houston Dental Society with the various student chapters enthusiastically began collecting toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash at the March 2017 Star of the South Dental Meeting. The ICD Mosaic Project continues to grow with the Texas Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD), Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals, Houston Community College (Coleman College Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene Programs) and Crest Oral-B. Our students collect and bundle the donations to make the oral hygiene kits and serve always together.
This past year students offered oral hygiene kits after serving meals to the homeless at Loaves and Fishes, provided cancer screenings while visiting veterans with PTSD at Camp Hope, participated twice at the Lakewood Church Health Fair, National Week of Service, and at Special Smiles in College Station. The most recent event on May 12th, was a partnership with Special Olympics Texas Area Four Healthy Athletes Med Fest at Strake Jesuit High School.  Med Fest included the dental Special Smiles venue had 40+ volunteers providing oral health screening and mouth guards for individuals with special needs and physicians and medical residents from Baylor College of Medicine providing medical screenings.  We continue to learn how to meet this disparity of health as we serve in soup kitchens, shelters and increase awareness globally of preventive health promotion through partnerships with other dental schools and their faculty and students.  
The Mosaic movement grows in response to needs and the compassion of young dentists! This hands-on, life-changing mission allows children, teens and adults to receive an oral hygiene kit that opens the door to dental care and gives the gift of hope, freedom and dignity. A toothbrush can do so much more than simply clean teeth! Recently, we began providing dental treatment without charge to a limited number of veterans who deal with PTSD. All accomplished with volunteers donating dental supplies and their time. It is our hope that we can help individuals around the world with their dental health.  This July, eight students and three faculty will spend two weeks in China in collaboration with a dental school and hospital learning to serve people with disabilities and across cultures. 

To learn more, visit these MOSAIC websites:
[1] LA TIMES, May 9, 2017.  “How Houston Has Become the Most Diverse Place in America”.

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