Bulletin of Dental Education

Fostering International Dental Hygiene Education During a Pandemic

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The University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine (UB SDM) is celebrating the 25th anniversary of professional development and educational activities offered to dental and dental hygiene professionals from Italy. Over the years, the Office of Continuing Dental Education, directed by Annamarie Phalen, coordinated leading-edge evidence-based conferences in oral medicine presented by world renowned clinicians, researchers and educators such as Sebastian Ciancio, D.D.S.; Robert Genco, D.D.S., Ph.D.; Frank Scannapieco, D.M.D., Ph.D.; Joseph Margarone M.D.; and Richard Hall, D.D.S., M.D., Ph.D., among others.

While the COVID-19 pandemic caused a swift and unforeseen disruption to many educational activities worldwide as well as restrictions to travel to and from many countries, including Italy, the commitment to nurture the legacy of this international educational alliance led faculty members of the UB SDM and the D’Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara to reinvent and strengthen this joint venture by implementing a new instructional exchange format to the international activities.

This exchange was accomplished thanks to the extraordinary initiative and resourcefulness as well as the partnership developed over the years with Marco Dolci, D.D.S., Ph.D., Professor and Director of the Dental Hygiene Program and faculty member of the D.D.S. program in Italy, and his valuable collaborator, Silvia D’Agostino, D.D.S., faculty of the Dental Hygiene and D.D.S. programs. For the first time, the 2021 educational experience was brought to the Italian dental hygiene and dental students through a synchronous webinar. The webinar was integrated into the Italian Dental Hygiene academic curriculum as a required educational component with mandatory attendance.

The three-hour long webinar titled “Microbiome and Peri-implant Health: Update” was offered by Sebastiano Andreana, D.D.S., M.S., Professor and Director of the Implant Center at the UB SDM, and his longtime collaborator, Carla Beneduce, Ed.D., M.S., RDH. Second- and third-year dental hygiene students and fifth-year dental students attended the session. A total of 54 participants joined the live webinar on a Saturday afternoon. Dr. Andreana provided a comprehensive evidence-based review of the literature on the effect of the oral microbiome on many systemic conditions as well as periodontal and peri-implant health. Specifically, recent findings on the correlation between periodontal conditions and Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, lung diseases, including the novel coronavirus COVID-19, were presented.

The live lecture was followed by a Q&A session moderated by Drs. Dolci and D’Agostino. Students from both programs asked many pertinent questions, demonstrating a high level of inquisitiveness and critical thinking as well as knowledge of both the classical and current literature. Specifically, students focused on how recent findings in the field of oral medicine may affect their daily clinical practice and care of the patients. Of interest was their awareness of the racial disparities in the United States in relation to access to oral health services. and what programs are available to disadvantaged communities that would mitigate the shortcomings in the delivery of emergency, preventive and sustained oral care.

Dr. Scannapieco, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Oral Biology and Associate Dean for Faculty and Professional Development, says, “This long-standing collaboration mutually benefited all of the wonderful dentists and dental hygienists from Italy, as well as the faculty and students from Buffalo who enjoyed sharing experiences, learning together and developing friendships and camaraderie.” As we celebrate this milestone, we look forward to strengthening this international collaboration in the years to come.

Courtesy of Carla Beneduce, Ed.D., M.S., RDH, Silvia, D’Agostino, D.D.S., (Ph.D. Candidate), Sebastiano Andreana, D.D.S., M.S., and Marco Dolci, D.D.S., Ph.D.

Duggan ad 2013