Syrian Refugees Get Free Dental Screenings at University of Washington

Dentistry Today


Students and faculty are screening dozens of area Syrian refugees for dental care at the University of Washington (UW) School of Dentistry. Led by Alaa Yassin, DDS, MS, a third-year periodontology resident at the school, between 85 and 100 Syrian adults and children are expected to receive free screenings. The first session was held on January 17 at the school. The second is set for January 27 at the UW Center for Pediatric Dentistry at Magnuson Park.  

“Many of the Syrian refugees approached me with dental needs because I am a dentist and I am involved in providing services to the refugee community,” said Yassin, an oral surgeon from Damascus who entered the school in 2014 and vice president of Muslim Health Professionals of Greater Puget Sound. “I wanted to get them admitted as patients at the School of Dentistry to make sure they’d receive high-quality dental care.”

Faculty members and residents volunteered to perform the screenings, which include x-rays. Once patients are admitted, the adults will be treated by predoctoral dental students under faculty supervision at the school, while the children will be seen by pediatric dental residents and faculty at the UW Center for Pediatric Dentistry.

Many of the refugees have spent years in camps in places such as Jordan and Turkey without receiving any dental care. Some of them have never seen a dentist, Yassin said, who also indicated that their need is often dire. Aside from the immediate health benefits, Yassin added, the process of receiving care helps the refugees integrate more fully into US society.

The Muslim Health Professionals of Puget Sound provided interpreters and lunch for the outreach programs. Faculty members who speak Arabic also served as interpreters, along with volunteers from the Seattle community. The Refugee Welcome Home outreach of World Relief in Seattle assisted with transportation. Crest and Oral-B donated toothbrushes, floss, and toothpaste. 

“We owe a great deal not only to Dr. Yassin for his leadership, but also to our Patient Services office staff here and the staff at the Center for Pediatric Dentistry,” said Joel Berg, DDS, MS, dean of the school. “They worked tirelessly behind the scenes to arrange this outreach to our community, and I’m grateful for their outstanding effort.”

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