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28 December 2023

CU Dental's Top Stories of 2023

2023 was a big year for the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine (CU SDM) as we celebrated our 50th anniversary.

Looking back at the many stories of student success, patient care, faculty scholarship, research and innovation, a few themes stand out: the integral connection between oral health and overall health; increasing access to dental care; and collaborative, person-centered care and education as we look to the future. 

Here are our top ten must-read stories of 2023. 

Routine Dental Exam Catches Critical Heart Issue

When dental student Mohita Sharma, BDS, (ISP ’23), noticed her patient’s heart rate was higher than usual, neither of them expected it would save his life.

“Dentists are sometimes the first providers to diagnose something going on in the whole body,” said Sharma. “Dentistry is often considered separate from primary care, but it shouldn’t be. We are taught how the oral cavity affects the whole body and vice versa. That’s why we do a comprehensive exam every time we see a patient.” 

Me and My Avatar—A New Frontier in Dental Simulation

Imagine having the opportunity to join a multi-dentist practice during your first days in dental school. Imagine that within that practice, you are able to establish a long-term relationship with a patient whose evolving case and progress is your responsibility throughout your entire dental education. Now imagine that your patient is an avatar with a complex mixture of social, medical and dental histories and challenges that develop in response to your treatment decisions. 

Such experiences would have sounded like sci-fi fantasy to previous generations of dental school graduates. For students at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine (CU SDM), however, that precise scenario is now a reality in the school’s new Dental Advanced Simulation Hub (DASH). 

Can Dogs Improve Access to Dental Care?

When Lexi Dunnells looked to build a project for the School of Dental Medicine’s Research Day, she knew she wanted to study how to reduce barriers to care in the dental clinic.

“I was a teacher for five years and never knew that the number one reason why kids miss school is dental pain – it's shocking,” said Dunnells, a dual 2024 DDS and MPH candidate in the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine and Colorado School of Public Health. “So for me, combining the individual patient level nature of dentistry with the larger context of public health – remembering the ‘why’ of what I'm doing – was an exciting prospect.” 

Finding a Different Pathway to Dental School

Jake Luong’s journey to dental school didn’t come easily, but he was determined to make it happen. Now, he is the first student to matriculate into the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine (CU SDM) through the Master of Science in Modern Human Anatomy (MHA) Pathway to Dentistry Program.

“Getting into dental school has been both challenging and rewarding,” Luong said. “It's a demanding path, but the opportunity to help people with their oral health makes it fulfilling.” 

Can Flossing Help Prevent Alzheimer’s and Strokes?

What happens in the mouth doesn’t always stay in the mouth. That’s the mantra for many dental experts today, as research into connections between gum disease and systemic disorders – from strokes and rheumatoid arthritis to diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease – becomes more prominent.

Although more studies behind the suspected links are needed, one thing is clear, said Sangeetha Chandrasekaran, MS, BDS, chair of the Division of Periodontics in the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine: Any flossing or dental checkup resolutions made for the new year certainly can’t hurt. 

Source: https://news.cuanschutz.edu/

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