Community Service

Dentistry in Service to Communities (DISC) Program

The Dentistry in Service to Communities Program, or DISC, is a community-based extramural service learning program. The program is operated collaboratively by the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) and the UNC School of Dentistry.


Community-Based Service Learning

Community-based service learning allows future clinicians to witness the disproportionate burden of oral disease manifest in our state’s most vulnerable populations. Students develop experiential understanding of the environmental and social determinants that impact individual and population health. Clinical skills are honed and, of equal if not greater importance, the ethical obligation to serve a greater good is cultivated and the rewards of serving a diverse patient population are experienced.

The DISC program is designed to impact future generations of dentists to focus on community service. The UNC School of Dentistry believes in developing a workforce that is focused on the prevention of oral disease and committed to both health equity and social justice. It is hoped that exposure to these experiences may influence some students to pursue careers in these settings and for all future graduates to be community oral health leaders.

Independent from DISC residents in the General Practice Residency, Graduate Pediatric Dentistry, Graduate Endodontics, and Graduate Orthodontics Programs provide care for targeted at-risk populations in community-based settings including local health departments, federally qualified health centers and correctional facilities.

Dental hygiene students engage in a three-week practicum in their final semester. This takes the form of service learning supervised by community organization preceptors. This is part of a course that fulfills their experiential education requirement.