Skip to content

Dear Dugoni School Family,

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, which offers us a great opportunity to look for ways to remind the public about the importance of oral health as a key component of overall health, especially for children.

National Children’s Dental Health Month began as a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1941. It has since grown to a national month-long observance that has raised awareness about oral health among millions of children and adults. More details are available on the American Dental Association's website.

Our students, residents, faculty, and staff are hosting a couple of special events related to this effort. Thanks in advance to the many volunteers who are making these upcoming community events possible:

Give Special Kids a Smile — Saturday, February 9, at the Union City Dental Care Center (in partnership with the Southern Alameda County Dental Society) for children and adults with physical and/or mild developmental disabilities

Give Kids a Smile — Saturday, March 2, at the Hutto Patterson Pediatric Dentistry Clinic in San Francisco for children up to age 17

Please feel free to spread the word about these events to family, friends, neighbors, or other contacts in the community. And, we always encourage you to tell them about the ongoing care provided at the Hutto Patterson Pediatric Dentistry Clinic and the Redmond Family Orthodontic Clinic here at the Dugoni School.

Thanks for all that you do in February and throughout the rest of the year to help fulfill our school’s purpose of helping people lead healthy lives.

The July 24/31 issue of the American Medical Association's publication JAMA includes an article titled "The Importance of Oral Health in Comprehensive Health Care".This article is an excellent summary of the connection between oral and systemic health, as well as the value of the oral cavity in diagnostic and preventive medicine.

Dental caries is a widespread condition. If untreated, dental caries can lead to severe and costly oral and systemic manifestations. The CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2012, identified the presence of dental caries in 91% of the adult US population. In the pediatric population, dental caries is the single most common chronic disease of childhood. In addition, overall health care costs continued to increase between 1996 and 2013 for both children and adults. This, coupled with reductions in dental coverage and limited access to routine and preventive dental services, has increased emergency department visits for basic dental services and has disproportionately affected lower socioeconomic and minority groups.

The financial burden of lost days from work due to dental and oral diseases and the expense of care outweigh the costs for prevention. This imbalance is readily seen in osteoradionecrosis of the jaw (ORN), a preventable disease with severe consequences, including poor bone and oral healing, bone necrosis, and fracture after dental trauma such as extraction of nonsalvageable teeth. ORN most often occurs following radiation therapy for oral cancer. Financial costs can be a barrier for access to treatment for ORN, yet appropriate treatment of dental disease prior to radiation therapy can reduce the complications associated with ORN. Oral conditions such as ORN may result in difficulty chewing and poor nutrition, acute or chronic pain, increased risk for opioid dependence, and a decrease in quality of life.

To meet the challenge of widespread dental diseases, oral health examinations should be implemented in multiple venues beyond dental practices and clinics. Physicians have an important role by providing a thorough oral evaluation and referral when warranted... Federally qualified health centers and accountable care organizations are service delivery models that, with increased attention to coordinated interprofessional care, should help address the challenges of access to care. Other models are being evaluated, such as the community health worker and increased use of newer technologies like teledentistry. Such practices, which show promise for improving access to care, could be closely coordinated with primary care models to provide the most comprehensive health care possible.

This article provides further evidence for our approach to building a stronger foundation and support for our students and graduates as leaders in helping everyone in our communities lead healthier lives through our expertise and understanding of oral health and the value we bring to comprehensive health.

The Dugoni School was in the spotlight in numerous ways at the American Dental Education Association’s Annual Session held recently in Orlando, Florida. We have enjoyed a long history of leadership at ADEA, helping shape the future of dental education for thousands of students. Our faculty, staff and students shared their knowledge in a variety of program sessions, at the ADEA TechExpo and through research poster presentations. You would be proud to have seen them in action!

Dr. David Chambers, professor of dental education, was honored with the national “Gies Award for Achievement — Dental Educator” during the conference. What a fitting award for someone who has advanced how we train dental professionals for decades. Our student Will Keeton DDS ’18, who serves as a leader on the ADEA council of students and residents, had the honor of introducing Dr. Chambers at the ceremony. This award marks the fourth ADEA Gies Award that our dental school or its leaders have received since the Gies awards program began in 2008.

Also making news was Dr. Michelle Brady, assistant professor and group practice leader, who was selected for ADEA’s 2018 Enid A. Neidle Scholar-in-Residence Program. The program offers the recipient a unique opportunity to focus on issues affecting women faculty members in dental education. Dr. Brady will receive a stipend to pursue a cumulative two- to three-month fellowship at the ADEA office in Washington, DC. She will be working on the topic, "A Development Model to Support Female Faculty Academic Advancement and Leadership Potential in a Dental School Environment," with the goal of creating a pathway for female faculty to develop, starting as students.

Efforts to advance women in the profession continue back here on campus as well. Our student-driven chapter of the American Association of Women Dentists has been very active on campus. Recent activities included a keynote presentation by faculty member Dr. Natasha Lee ’00, current president of the California Dental Association.

Our students across all of our programs are staying involved in organized dentistry at local, state and national levels. Several students and faculty from our Dental Hygiene program even visited the state capitol during a recent Legislative Day organized by the California Dental Hygienists’ Association.

With sincere gratitude to the thousands of generous members of our Dugoni School family, we have now surpassed the $50,000,000 milestone in our $65,000,000 comprehensive campaign supporting our stellar people, programs, and place. Many philanthropic gifts have been eligible for the University’s wonderful 1:1 Powell Match program, doubling the donors' impact for our student, faculty, and staff members.

Our alumni continue to make a difference across the country and around the globe. One of these people is Dr. Colin Wong ’65, who was honored this past weekend with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alliance for Smiles in recognition of his many years of treating children with cleft lip and palate in China. Thousands of children have healthy and beautiful smiles thanks to the efforts of Dr. Wong, who serves as an adjunct professor and our school’s Vice Dean for China/U.S. Relations.

The leadership of Drs. Chambers, Brady and Wong, along with so many of our other alumni, students, and faculty, are inspiring examples of the Dugoni School family making a difference in the world of dental education — and the world at large.

April is national Oral Cancer Awareness Month, a time when the health community spotlights a serious disease. As oral healthcare providers we are on the front lines of this issue during April and also during every other month throughout the year. We are in a unique position to perform head and neck exams and oral screenings that can help identify abnormalities in the mouth at the earliest stage — and help save lives.

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, oral cancers will be newly diagnosed in about 132 individuals each day in the United States alone. The good news is that it can often be found early through a quick and painless head and neck screening. With early detection, survival rates are high and the side effects from treatment are at their lowest. This is why our faculty, students, and residents place great care and emphasis on this screening during the oral diagnosis and treatment planning of each patient in all of our clinics.

The foundation has news, research, and other resources on its website. Additionally the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance has designated April 8 to 15 as Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness Week. Learn more about that initiative here.

Thank you for your dedication to helping people in our community lead healthy lives.