Bulletin of Dental Education

Dentistry in the News - November 2011

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Officials Praise New Dental Building at Georgia Health Sciences University

Dr. Richard W. Valachovic, Executive Director of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), recently visited the new $112 million building at the College of Dental Medicine at Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU). Dr. Valachovic noted that the building will help to attract students, faculty, and patients. The new building allows the incoming class size to increase to 100 students. GHSU President Ricardo Azziz noted, “It is much more than a building; it is an investment in the health of the state of Georgia.”

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal remarked that Georgia ranks 48th in the number of dentists per 100,000 residents, and one in seven Georgia counties lacks a dentist. “Growing the size of GHSU’s dental class not only means better oral health for Georgia, it means better economic health for our sate as well,” Deal said.

Oregon Health and Science University Breaks Ground on Collaborative Life Sciences Building

In a joint project between the Oregon University System and the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), construction has begun on the 500,000-square-foot Collaborative Life Sciences Building. The new building will house classrooms and educational facilities for programs from OHSU, Portland State University, and Oregon State University. It will also create employment opportunities and enable expanded class sizes and research activities.

In addition to classrooms, the new building will house educational facilities, including lecture halls, laboratories, and specialty research centers for OHSU, Portland State University, and Oregon State University programs. The OHSU Center for Spatial Systems, as well as OHSU School of Dentistry and joint OSU-OHSU College of Pharmacy facilities will also have a home in the new building, along with offices and retail space.

The Collaborative Life Sciences Building is scheduled for completion in spring 2014

First Phase of Renovation Complete at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine

The first phase of a comprehensive renovation plan for the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine has been completed. "As part of an effort to implement a new approach to clinic care, the renovations reorganize academic clinic space to provide smaller and more intimate treatment groups, similar to an actual dental practice," said Rob Quigley, American Institute of Architects, a principal at Architectural Resources Cambridge, who is the Principal-in-Charge of the renovation project and who also led the design team for the Vertical Expansion. The redesign and renovation of the lower floors improves circulation, separates public patient and private staff/student spaces, and provides administrative and technical support space directly related to each student practice group. Clinics managed at Tufts School of Dental Medicine provide care to more than 18,000 individuals each year, including those with special needs.

University of Pittsburgh Dental School Starts New Program

The University of Pittsburgh Dental School is starting a program on specialties including preventing birth defects—such as cleft palates—and growing new bones to repair head injuries. Dr. Mark Mooney is the chairman of the graduate program in oral biology, which will begin its inaugural class of master's and doctoral candidates next fall. He said the new students are likely to tackle a host of challenges, including unraveling the genetic underpinnings of cleft palates. The birth defect that affects about 16 in every 10,000 live births in the United States is among the most common, Mooney said. The new department's other specialty track, craniofacial tissue engineering — growing new bones and cartilage for the head and face — could tap into Pitt's McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Mooney said researchers there work closely with the Department of Defense. The oral biology program will begin accepting applications later this fall.

Researchers Discover Teeth of Oldest Fossil Rodents in South America

Along the Ucayali River near Contamana, Peru, a team of researchers found rodent fossils that are at least 41 million years old—the oldest on the South American continent. Research team member Darin Croft said that the remains— teeth—showed these rat-size animals to be most closely related to African rodents, confirming the hypothesis that early South American rodents had origins in Africa. Croft is an anatomy professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

This discovery supports the contention that rodents landed in the north and spread south. The rodents are from the suborder Caviomorpha, the group that includes living rodents such as guinea pigs, chinchillas, and New World porcupines. The characteristics of the teeth found reinforce the connection between the continents: the morphologies are closest to those of African rodents. The dental features indicate the rodents probably ate soft seeds and plant parts, as many small rodents do today. Pollen extracted from the fossilized mud that contained the teeth suggests these rodents lived in a rain forest, much like the rain forest there today. The fossils are permanently stored at the Museum of Natural History in Lima.

Does Sugar-Free Mean Good for Your Teeth?

In a literature review in the British Dental Journal, researchers say there is an “unrecognized risk of acidic flavoring in sugar-free candies and beverages” that still pose a risk for dental erosion. “The term sugar-free may generate false security because people may automatically believe that sugar-free products are safe on teeth,” says Dr. Sok-Ja Janket, Associate Research Professor at Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) and lead researcher on the project.

Xylitol, a sugar substitute approved by both the U.S .Food and Drug Administration and the European Union, is popular in the United Kingdom and has proved to reduce tooth decay. Sorbitol, the sugar substitute common in the United States because of its lower cost, helps reduce cavities, but not as well. When sugar substitutes are used with acidic additives, though, no food or drink containing them can be considered “tooth friendly.” Researchers also warn that sugar-free does not mean calorie-free, and that some sugar-free candies and beverages have up to 50% of the calories of their full sugared counterparts.

The review was conducted by Dr. Janket and Hadi Nadimi, from GSDM; Dr. Helena Wesamaa, Institute of Dentistry, University of Helsinki; Dr. Prashanti Bollu, College of Dental Medicine, University of Southern Nevada; and Dr. Jukka H. Meurman, also of the University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Central Hospital.

Miss Arab USA Stresses the Importance of Education

Miss Arab USA, Christina Rafidia, is appearing across the country to speak to young women about making education their number one priority. Rafidia is completing her bachelor’s degree in biology and plans on becoming a dentist. She has been a dental assistant since 2007 and sees the dental field as the perfect opportunity to help people. Rafidia earned the crown at the second annual Miss Arab USA pageant in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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