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I hope your Tuesday is off to a good start. Yesterday was a time of observance of both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples' Day. Columbus Day was proclaimed a national holiday in 1934, while the celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day took root more recently. Read a brief overview of both days here.

As we look toward the future, please take a minute to reflect on where we have been. Our newly published 2020-2021 Academic Year in Review highlights some of the stories, metrics, and milestones of our last academic year. We compile this publication each year to showcase the important work done by School family. You may see your own projects highlighted among the pages. Thank you to our team members in the Marketing and Communications and Design and Photo departments for your work on the issue. The publication is available online and we will also have a limited number of printed copies available upon request.

This week marks Sterile Processing Week (formerly International Central Service Week), celebrated October 10 - 16, 2021. Please thank the members of the Central Sterilization and Dispensing Department for the important work they do each day. They are on the front lines of patient and provider safety here at the Dugoni School, as they are responsible for cleaning, decontaminating, sterilization, assembling, testing, and otherwise managing the instruments and equipment used to care for our patients. Our clinics could not function safely or successfully without their important contributions.

This week, August 23 – 27, is a global celebration of World Water Week, an annual event on global water issues organized by Stockholm International Water Institute. The week attracts participants from more than 130 countries and consists of a broad array of activities convened by leading international organizations on a broad array of water-related topics, ranging from food security and health, to agriculture, technology, biodiversity, and the climate crisis.

Did you know that water and oral health have a strong connection? The CDC website has an informative write-up on the 75th anniversary of community water fluoridation as follows: “Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first US city to fluoridate its public water supply in 1945. Five years later, when the schoolchildren of Grand Rapids were found to have significantly fewer cavities than children from surrounding communities, other Michigan cities also began fluoridating and soon achieved similar results. Within a few years, cities and towns across the United States were fluoridating their water. Since its launch over 75 years ago, community water fluoridation has proved to be one of public health’s greatest success stories, improving the health and wellbeing of people in the United States and around the world.  Although other fluoride-containing products, such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and dietary supplements are available and contribute to the prevention and control of tooth decay, community water fluoridation has been identified as the most cost-effective method of delivering fluoride to all, reducing tooth decay by 25% in children and adults.”

In other news from partners in healthcare, a new statistical brief Emergency Department Visits Involving Dental Conditions, 2018, was just published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. This brief updates a similar report from 2009 and provides valuable information about dental-related Emergency Department (ED) visits. A few highlights include:

  • In 2018, there were more than 2 million dental-related ED visits, which represented 615.5 visits per 100,000 population.
  • The highest population rates of dental-related ED visits were among non-Hispanic Black individuals, individuals aged 18–44 years, and those residing in the lowest income communities.
  • Of all dental-related ED visits, nearly 95 percent were treated and released, and 5 percent resulted in admission to the hospital.
  • Among treat-and-release ED visits with a principal diagnosis of a dental condition, three groups of dental conditions accounted for 93 percent of visits—loss of teeth and similar disorders, diseases of pulp and periapical tissues, and dental caries.

Emergency dental services provided in our clinics provide a tremendous benefit to the local community. Thank you to all involved in triaging and caring for the people who come to us each week in pain or discomfort. We were fortunate last spring during the start of the pandemic to be able to continue offering emergency services to the public in order to prevent those individuals from going to hospital emergency rooms. Thank you all for understanding the importance of oral health to overall health and the service you provide for helping our communities live healthy lives.

I will end this note with a quote shared with me this week by Dr. Steven Sadowsky.

“Service is the rent we pay for our room here on earth.” —Muhammad Ali

Be well,

It is amazing to think we have reached the last week of the academic year. This year has moved ahead swiftly with each day bringing some important and historic milestones.

We hosted the WREB examinations over the weekend and are now hosting the ADEX exam. Yesterday was our last day of full services in the Main Clinic. Today, Faculty Development Day activities are taking place online. Wednesday is the day that graduating students will be officially certified for graduation, and we will welcome our incoming students at a “Meet the Family” session in the evening. Exams will take place the rest of the week for our continuing students. The circle of academic life continues.  We also look forward to the virtual awards program on Friday evening for the graduating Class of 2021 and our in-person commencement ceremony on Sunday. What a memorable week!

I would like to take this moment to express my deep appreciation to all of you as members of the Dugoni School family. You have worked so hard during some very unusual circumstances during this academic year. Thank you for all that you have done — and will continue to do — to collaborate, succeed, and thrive in the face of any challenge or obstacle.

This certainly was a remarkable year. Our Dugoni School family has been inspiring in achieving so many incredible milestones this year. I am grateful for your compassion, care, and commitment to excellence in all that we do. You helped us stay true to our values and achieve our purpose of helping people lead healthy lives. You helped the Dugoni School emerge through this year as a premier dental education program anywhere in this country or world.

I hope that you take time to reflect, appreciate your many achievements, and allow yourself some downtime to rest.

Dear Dugoni School Family,

Congratulations to several of our students for their contributions to the April Contour magazine from the American Student Dental Association.

Pedrom Mashaw wrote a profile of alumnus Dr. Bill Dorfman (page 6); Anthoula Vlachos penned a story about sports dentistry (page 24), and Sharynne Isys Alfonso and Patrick Gomez shared their thoughts in the “Probing Question” section (page 48).

Thanks to these students, and others throughout the year, who took the time to share their voices with fellow students and colleagues from across the country.

Building your transparency and communication skills is critically important as a leader. When we communicate in an honest and clear manner, we alleviate fears and provide hope. Frequent and honest communication is reassuring, and I applaud our students for building your networks and for your communication.