Texas Recruits and Retains Program

Texas Oral Health Coalition

Texas Recruits & Retains Program: Improving Public Health Knowledge through Social Determinants of Health Research

Program Overview
These webinars will describe the state-wide program, Texas Recruits & Retains (TRR), that partnered three dental schools in Texas to address dental workforce issues. TRR provides public health training and research opportunities aimed at improving access to care. 

SDH Student Research Forum: What is the impact on dentistry?

Date: October 28, 2021
Time: 12:00 PM CT
Teaching Method: Live webinar lecture
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AGD Subject Code: 144 

Course Description:

Social determinants of health (SDH) are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life (WHO, 2021). It is important for oral health providers to understand SDH because they influence health outcomes and ultimately patient care. This webinar is provided by a state- wide program, Texas Recruits & Retains (TRR), that partnered three dental schools in Texas to address dental workforce issues. TRR provides public health training and research opportunities aimed at improving access to care. The webinar will describe four summer research projects, three of which were done in collaboration with CareQuest Institute for Oral Health. The research projects are on SDH and its’ impact on the practice of dentistry today and in the future.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe social determinants of health (SDH) as an integral component of oral health.
  2. Identify the correlation between SDH and patient dental fear, transportation services, dentist burnout, and tooth loss.
  3. Understand the importance of dental public health research to achieve optimal health for all Texans.


  • Madhuli Thakkar-Samtani, BDS, MPH
  • Asma Hussain, BS
  • Reem Al-Sayyad, BS
  • Makayla Medrano, BS
  • Lauren Sorto-Ramos, BS

Poverty and Oral Health: Two Research Perspectives on Reducing Health Inequities

Friday, December 18, 2020
12:00 PM CST

Course Description:

Poverty entails more than the lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion, as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. Understanding the realities of poverty and what patients encounter in their daily lives may provide dental professionals with the skills needed to apply patient-centered care in a culturally sensitive manner. This session will introduce poverty as a fundamental aspect of the social determinants of health (SDH) through two research projects conducted at the University of Texas Health-San Antonio, School of Dentistry. The first project focused on income, education, and population size in relation to the availability of dental products in various geographic regions. The second project addressed enhancing the cultural competency training among dental and allied healthcare students through an innovative interprofessional learning paradigm. Emphasis on the importance of dental professionals’ knowledge regarding the impact of poverty on oral and general health will be discussed. The session aims to inspire new outreach programs to reduce health disparities and enhance health outcomes among low-income groups. Furthermore, it will provide substantial insights to build a more inclusive and SDH-oriented mindset among oral health professionals.

Learning Objectives:

The learner will be able to:

  1. Describe poverty and understand its impact as an integral component of the social determinants of health.
  2. Identify the correlation between income, education, and population size in relation to the availability of dental products in different geographic regions.
  3. Understand the importance of cultural competency training among future health care providers through analyzing a SDH-based interprofessional experiential learning model.

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Magda de la TorreMagda A. de la Torre, RDH, MPH

Magda A. de la Torre, RDH, MPH is a Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Comprehensive Dentistry, Division of Dental Public Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, School of Dentistry (UT Health).  She received her Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene from UT Health and a Master of Public Health from Texas A&M University with a concentration in Health Policy and Management and Behavioral Health.  A dental professional for 35 years, she has dedicated 18 years to Academia.  She was a recipient of the 2008 UT Health Presidential Teaching Excellence Award and the 2007 Spectrum Award for Excellence and Leadership in Teaching, Research and Service in the School of Health Professions.  She was inducted in the Academy of Master Teachers and was named one of Latina Style Magazine’s “Brilliant Latinas in Health Care”.  Previously, she worked at the National Center for Farmworker Health, Center for Health Policy Development, Inc., and the State of Colorado, Farmworker Health Program.  She has vast experience in implementing culturally competent components of health programs while working with national, state, and local programs and organizations.  Ms.de la Torre has served on the Hispanic Dental Association Board of Directors and as Section and Governing Council for the Oral Health Section of the American Association of Public Health.  She has authored numerous journal articles and textbook chapter.  Currently, she teaches pre-doctoral dental students and post-doctoral residents.  When she isn’t doing research or teaching, Magda enjoys photography, reading, spending time with her husband, Rob, and two “fur babies”.

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Salma Elwazeer, BDS, MDS, MPH

Dr. Elwazeer is a pediatric dentist from Egypt. She completed a three-year Pediatric Dentistry Residency with a master’s degree in Pediatric Dentistry in her home country. She was appointed as an assistant lecturer in the department of Pediatric Dentistry and Dental Public Health at Ain Shams University, Egypt before moving to the United States. She got her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from Purdue University in Indiana then completed her Dental Public Health residency from UT Health San Antonio in June 2020. Dr. Elwazeer has dedicated more than ten years to advance the population health on the clinical, academic, research, and service levels. Through her academic journey, Dr. Elwazeer has led dental, medical, and pharmacy students through various oral health conveys in rural areas across Egypt. Her collaborative vision was targeting the disadvantaged populations while enhancing the students’ interprofessional cultural competency training. Her research interests include oral health disparities, cultural competency, children’s oral health, and interprofessional education. Acknowledging her efforts to enhance oral health among low-income children, Dr. Elwazeer has been selected as an awardee of the Stephen Jay Leadership Public Health Award. On the research level, she has been recently honored with the Anthony Westwater Jong Memorial Population Oral Health Award. Dr. Elwazeer is serving as the Co-Chair of the Scientific Program Planning, Oral Health Section, American Public Health Association (APHA). She is also a current member of the Council on Educational Affairs at the American Association of Public Health Dentistry (AAPHD). She enjoys cooking, reading, and having family time with her husband, her son, and her two little daughters.

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Jessica De La Fuente

Jessica De La Fuente is a third-year dental student at the UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry, D.D.S. program. She graduated from Baylor University summa cum laude in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. Jessica is active in various organizations and projects at UT Health San Antonio, and she is also an active leader in her community. She was recently involved with an interprofessional project aimed at constructing an effective IPE course for future UT Health students. The goal is to increase interprofessional education and team-building skills in order to provide interdisciplinary care to patients. She also completed a research study on the availability of dental products within different zip codes in San Antonio. This comparative study sought to reveal if poverty, income levels, and educational levels within each zip code have a significant impact in the types of dental products sold and the amount of shelf space given to these products in certain grocery stores. The research study was selected to present at the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) Convention, the UT Health Dental Science Symposium, and the 2020 OPEN National Meeting. In addition to research, Jessica holds various leadership positions in the American Student Dental Association (ASDA), SAMM Infante Dental Clinic, Class of 2022 leadership board, and the Pediatric Dental Society. She also has a background in education as she is involved in the Teaching Honors Program offering tutoring to students in Gross Anatomy, Dental Anatomy, Operative, and Fixed. On her free time, Jessica likes to spend time with her family and significant other. After graduation, her goal is to provide quality dental care to underserved communities in her hometown Brownsville, Texas, while organizing mission trips to Mexico.

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  • Ryan Allo, D4

  • Andrea Carrizales, D1

  • Jordan Chen, D1

  • Ayoung Jo, D1

Goals for student research projects
Texas is faced with a myriad of social determinants of health that today’s dentists are expected to address. The students were provided with social determinant of health (SDH) research topics that they used to create the research question, conduct a literature review, collect and analyze data, and report results.

Social Determinants of Health
The World Health Organization states that “SDH are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources at global, national and local levels. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities – the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries”. 

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