Husky 509

Increasing access to dental care with RIDE

Dental health is an essential part of overall health, but for many communities east of the mountains, dental care is out of reach. The Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program, part of the UW’s School of Dentistry, was created to address this challenge. Since 2012, RIDE has worked to increase access to dental care in Eastern Washington’s rural and underserved communities.

Operated in conjunction with Eastern Washington University (EWU), the UW School of Medicine WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) program in Spokane and community stakeholders, RIDE places eight School of Dentistry students on EWU’s Spokane campus during their first year. RIDE students spend their second and third years with dental classmates at the UW in Seattle, then half of their fourth year at one of several Eastern Washington community health centers.

In addition to providing dental care in the region, RIDE is committed to dental education. RIDE students recently traveled to Moses Lake with fellow UW Seattle dental students as part of a career exploration program featuring Eastern Washington care providers, including one RIDE alum. One hundred fifty (150) high school students, many from communities underrepresented in dentistry and medicine, took part in the event. The students got hands-on experience with building a tooth in wax and suturing — manual dexterity and brain-to-hand activities that are critical to any dental education.

In its five years, RIDE has fulfilled its mission to bring dental care to rural and underserved communities. Over 70 percent of graduates have returned to practice in these regions, and RIDE students have provided more than 24,000 hours of patient care in underserved communities. The program’s innovation has garnered national recognition. In October 2016, the RIDE program won the 2017 American Dental Education Association (ADEA) GIES Award for vision, innovation and achievement, the most prestigious award presented to a US or Canadian dental school.


RIDE helped lead a career exploration activity in Moses Lake attended by 150 area high school students, most of whom came from communities underrepresented in dentistry and medicine.


A high school student builds a tooth in wax, an excellent manual dexterity and brain-to-hand exercise.


A high school student practices his suturing skills


Proud to bring dentistry and medical education to young people in Moses Lake!