How Dr. DeSanto embarked on her dental journey
Diligent and dedicated, Dr. DeSanto worked her way up to become a biology major at DePaul University, where she participated in a research project studying, on mice, the effects of epilepsy drugs given to pregnant women. “We found that the mice developed cleft lip and palate,” she says. “Studying mice teeth for months opened my eyes to dentistry.”
Rising through the ranks
In 1994. just out of residency during her time at Northwestern University Dental School, she envisioned a role for herself in community dentistry, but that wouldn’t come to pass for nearly a decade.
“When I first came to Springfield,” Dr. DeSanto, 49, says, referring to Illinois’s capital city, “I realized quickly that there was not a place for the underprivileged to receive dental care. My first job was with a large dental corporation for eight years. Free care was not an option.”
That changed when she landed a seat as the only dentist on the board of Healthfirst Community Clinic, soon becoming its president.
“When our free clinic outgrew its location and was looking to move. we voted, under my direction, to give our entire endowment as startup money for Springfield’s first community dental clinic” — Central Counties Health Center
…which has since grown into a 20.000-square-foot facility employing four dentists and a full complement of assistants and hygienists.
Her animating ethos throughout? Sheer boundless gratitude.
“So many people and programs helped me in my younger years that got me where I am today,”
Dr. DeSanto says.
“I am eternally grateful. God gives you gifts to use. We are all in this world together. One cause. One purpose. One goal.”