DS3 takes first place at OPEN’s 2020 scientific poster competition
December 8, 2020
Jessica De La Fuente, DS3, was awarded first place in the scientific poster competition at The Oral Health Progress and Equity Network’s (OPEN) virtual 2020 meeting.
Her comparative study, “Determinants of Oral Health: Dental Products Availability by Geographic Areas”, investigated the availability of dental products and access to care in different zip codes throughout San Antonio. She sought to determine if poverty or income and educational levels within each zip code had an impact on the types of dental-related products available to those consumers.
Jessica found great disparities between the communities’ access to products, even within major grocery chains. A store in an affluent neighborhood would offer a vast selection of dental products right at a buyer’s fingertips, however the same store in a lower income neighborhood would carry only a limited selection of products, many of which behind locked glass.
“It was definitely fun getting to conduct research out in the field,” Jessica says. “This project was very close to my heart because coming from a low socioeconomic background myself, it saddened me to see the huge disparities between communities.”
Even with the sobering results, Jessica remains hopeful that conducting similar studies will provide additional data pinpointing underserved communities in need of dental care.
Magda A. de la Torre, RDH, MPH, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Comprehensive Dentistry, couldn’t be prouder of the first-place win. Professor de la Torre has been Jessica’s dental public health research mentor since the summer of 2019.
“Jessica has demonstrated that she is committed to dental public health and she came to me wanting to learn more,” Professor de la Torre recalls. “She had minimal experience in research, so it is very fulfilling to see her growth as we planned and implemented her research project. Jessica is self-motivated, intelligent and professional; I am looking forward to the impact she will make on the dental profession and the community she serves.”
According to their website, the OPEN’s mission is to “catalyze a network to take on America’s oral health challenges so that everyone has an equitable chance to thrive.” Jessica feels honored to have contributed to such a purpose.
“It is truly an honor to be recognized as a first-place winner,” she expressed. “Earning first place helped reaffirm that I am doing my part in advocating for health equity through my research, plus I was fortunate enough to have an amazing mentor in Professor Magda de la Torre.”