Bulletin of Dental Education

WVU SOD Introduces New Program in Periodontology and Dental Implant Surgery

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The West Virginia University School of Dentistry (WVU SOD) has inaugurated a new program in Periodontology and Dental Implant Surgery. Under the guidance of Gian Pietro Schincaglia, D.D.S., Ph.D., the program trains dentists to become specialists in preventing and treating periodontal disease and related conditions and in the placement of dental implants. 

Dr. Schincaglia teaches students about periodontal diseases.

West Virginia’s rate of severe tooth loss is currently 14%—almost six times higher than the global rate of 2.5%. The second most frequent cause of tooth loss is periodontal disease, which CDC estimates affects nearly 50% of the U.S. population.

“It is necessary to develop a better understanding of periodontal disease and the prevention and management of this condition that leads to tooth loss,” asserts Dr. Schincaglia.

That could be especially true in West Virginia, where there is a high rate of at least two of the factors that increase the severity of periodontal diseases—diabetes and smoking. 

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease reports more than one in seven adults in the state has diabetes. In 2015, West Virginia had the second highest rate of diabetes in the nation.

“A patient with diabetes, even undiagnosed diabetes, can have a severe periodontal disease as a sign of the underlying systemic condition. So, it’s important to control periodontitis because the disease can increase the severity of diabetes, and vice versa.”

A second factor that can worsen periodontal conditions is smoking and tobacco use.

The Truth Initiative, a nonprofit public health organization fighting tobacco use, reports that 25.7% of adults in West Virginia smoke, compared with 17.5% adults who smoke nationwide.

“A patient who sees blood when brushing their teeth, sees teeth moving slowly, or notices the space between teeth growing is already showing the clinical signs of periodontitis,” Dr. Schincaglia explains. “Unfortunately, when teeth begin to move from gum disease, it’s almost too late for effective treatment.”

Kerri Thomas Simpson, D.D.S., resident, performs
oral surgery on a patient receiving dental implants.

Eight percent of West Virginia residents have severe periodontal disease, which means they are at risk of losing teeth.

“The purpose of the program is to generate board-certified periodontists to serve West Virginia’s population and to support general dentists in treating periodontal diseases and related conditions,” says Dr. Schincaglia. “Our goals also include offering cutting-edge technologies for the replacement of missing teeth with dental implants.” 

The program is also implementing clinical research projects to develop innovative approaches for treating periodontal diseases and dental implant related conditions.

Dr. Schincaglia expects the first certified periodontology residents to graduate from the WVU SOD in 2020. They began the program in July 2017. 

Individuals requiring care can be referred by their dentists or come directly to the periodontal program to see a resident or faculty for treatment. For appointments, call 304-293-7052 or 304-293-5642.

Published on July 11, 2018

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