Bulletin of Dental Education

Around the Dental Education Community - August 2011

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One Word: Dugoni School Students Participate in Creative Self-Reflection Exercise  

Around_One WordTaking time from exams and patients, 25 University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry students participated in the Pacific One Word Project, a pilot program organized by the school’s Office of Academic Affairs. They were asked to select a single word that describes themselves at their “ideal” or “best” self and write a short explanation of their choice.

The Pacific One Word Project originally began as a way to provide first-year students a shared means of expressing self-awareness and connecting to future aspirations. The project is aimed at developing students' social and emotional competencies, which are considered essential in preparing students to enter a global community as responsible leaders.

Dugoni School of Dentistry students selected a variety of terms such as “contentment,” “courage,” “blessed,” “all-in,” “habitat,” and “unrelenting.” Some students chose words in a foreign language or made up words to appropriately describe their ideal self. Students also participated in an interpretive photo shoot coordinated by the One Word Project creative team.

Class of 2013 student Peter Ingoldsby chose “progress” as his one word.

“I believe that every day is a new chance to improve, a new chance to say we are a better person than we were yesterday,” he explained. “Some days, progress may be slower than others, but as long as we strive to better ourselves we know we are moving in the right direction.”

Many faculty, staff, alumni and current students from the wider Pacific community have participated in the One Word Project since it began in 2008. The project celebrates people and spotlights the diverse cultures, individuals, and ideas in the University of the Pacific community.

To view the One Word Project, visit: http://pacificoneword.org.

East Carolina Dental School Takes Shape 

Dr. Ledyard Ross signs the final beam of the ECU School of Dental Medicine as his wife, Alta, and Dean James R. Hupp look on.Approximately 100 people gathered on July 15, 2011, at the construction site of Ross Hall at East Carolina University (ECU) for a “topping out” ceremony, which symbolizes the completion of the steel structure of the dental school building. Dr. Ledyard Ross, a retired Greenville orthodontist who has pledged $4 million to the school and for whom the future 184,000-square-foot, four-story building is named, was the first signer.

Officials expect the school to help ease the statewide shortage of dentists, especially in eastern North Carolina. Four eastern counties—Gates, Tyrrell, Hyde, and Camden—have no dentists. The new school will aim to educate dentists who want to stay in the state to practice, particularly in rural areas.

“The mission of ECU is to serve the region and state,” said Dr. Steve Ballard, ECU Chancellor. “This school today certainly adds to that mission.”

Meanwhile, the school is hiring faculty and finishing its curriculum, which will be largely computer- and simulation-based. Outside Greenville, four community service learning centers are being planned across the state; a fifth location will be announced soon. At those centers, faculty members, dental residents, and fourth-year dental students will provide care.

“I know what a good school can accomplish, and we have all the goods,” said Dr. James R. Hupp, Dean of the School of Dental Medicine.

Groundbreaking Research Uses Stem Cells to Relieve Mouth, Face Pain 

Research from the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine and University of Maryland Baltimore College of Dental Surgery shows for the first time that a particular type of stem cell, bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMMSCs), can suppress orofacial pain rapidly—within one day of treatment—by either IV injection of cells or direct injection of cells to the injured site.

Researchers simulated two types of pain: myogenic pain (by ligating the masticatory muscle tendon) and neuropathic pain (by tying up the nerve on the face). In rat models, the pain never came back after stem cell injection. But in the untreated group, the pain lasted up to 22 weeks, or the length of the experimental period. The next step is a clinical trial to treat recalcitrant orofacial pain.

Researchers also found that this pain suppression is in part mediated through the endogenous opiod system operated centrally (in the brain) and peripherally (at the injured site). Further mechanisms to explain how this works are now under investigation.

Dr. George Huang, Associate Professor of Endodontics at Boston University, worked on the study with Dr. Ke Ren, Professor at the University of Maryland.

Dentists Can Identify People with Undiagnosed Diabetes, Columbia Researchers Show 

In a study, Identification of Unrecognized Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes in a Dental Setting, published in the July issue of the Journal of Dental Research, researchers at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine found that dental visits represented a chance to intervene in the diabetes epidemic by identifying individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetes who are unaware of their condition. The study sought to develop and evaluate an identification protocol for high blood sugar levels in dental patients and was supported by a research grant from Colgate-Palmolive Company. The authors report no potential financial or other conflicts.

“Periodontal disease is an early complication of diabetes, and about 70% of U.S. adults see a dentist at least once a year,” says Dr. Ira B. Lamster, Dean of the College of Dental Medicine and senior author on the paper. “Prior research focused on identification strategies relevant to medical settings. Oral health care settings have not been evaluated before, nor have the contributions of oral findings ever been tested prospectively.”

For this study, researchers recruited approximately 600 individuals visiting a dental clinic in northern Manhattan who were 40 or older (if non-Hispanic white) or 30 or older (if Hispanic or non-white), and had never been told they have diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Approximately 530 patients with at least one additional self-reported diabetes risk factor (family history of diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, or overweight/obesity) received a periodontal examination and a finger-stick, point-of-care hemoglobin A1c test.  In order for the investigators to assess and compare the performance of several potential identification protocols, patients returned for a fasting plasma glucose test, which indicates whether an individual has diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Researchers found that, in this at-risk dental population, a simple algorithm composed of only two dental parameters (number of missing teeth and percentage of deep periodontal pockets) was effective in identifying patients with unrecognized pre-diabetes or diabetes. The addition of the point-of-care A1c test was of significant value, further improving the performance of this algorithm.

“Early recognition of diabetes has been the focus of efforts from medical and public health colleagues for years, as early treatment of affected individuals can limit the development of many serious complications,” says Dr. Evanthia Lalla, an Associate Professor at the College of Dental Medicine and the lead author on the paper. “Relatively simple lifestyle changes in pre-diabetic individuals can prevent progression to frank diabetes, so identifying this group of individuals is also important,” she adds. “Our findings provide a simple approach that can be easily used in all dental-care settings.”

Other authors who contributed are: Dr. Carol Kunzel, Associate Clinical Professor at the College of Dental Medicine and at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health; Dr. Sandra Burkett, at the College of Dental Medicine; and Dr. Bin Cheng, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the Mailman School of Public Health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four people affected with type 2 diabetes in the United States remains undiagnosed. Those with pre-diabetes are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and also for heart disease, stroke, and other vascular conditions typical of individuals with diabetes.

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