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,

Dear Dugoni School Family,

Thank you to all members of the Dugoni School family who were able to join us live or virtually at the White Coat Ceremonies on Saturday. This was a unique year, with two ceremonies in one day, and I know there was extra coordination to make the events possible. I am grateful we were able to celebrate the achievements of our outstanding students in person during these important milestones. Congratulations to our students!

The morning ceremony (DDS and IDS 2022) livestream is available here

and the afternoon ceremony (DDS and IDS 2023 and DH 2022) livestream is available here.

Congratulations to our colleagues Drs. Audrey Yoon, Linda Phi, Joorok Park, and Heesoo Oh in the Orthodontics Department and to Dr. Allen Wong who published “Clinical Signs of Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Children with Disabilities” in Exceptional Parent magazine, the magazine for clinicians, parents, and others in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities. According to Dr. Wong, the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry names “sleep” as a focus of one of the major disparities of health care for people with IDD. It is wonderful to see the growing expertise of our faculty and school in the areas of sleep medicine in collaborations between several of our departments.  Learn more in the article.

In news about vaccines for COVID-19, yesterday the Food and Drug Administration formally approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people age 16 and older. The vaccine has been known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and will now be marketed as Comirnaty (koe-mir’-na-tee), for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older.  The vaccine continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain individuals.  This development is expected to usher in new vaccine requirements by hospitals, colleges, corporations, and other organizations around the country.  We are grateful to have almost all members of the Dugoni School family who have taken the important step of being fully vaccinated and look forward to the availability of booster doses later this year.  Learn more here, and listen to the media audio call here.

If you want to touch the past, touch a rock. If you want to touch the present, touch a flower. If you want to touch the future, touch a life.”–Unknown Author

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.

Memorial Day provides an opportunity for all of us to memorialize the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us.

Congratulations to those involved in the many presentations at OKU-Sutro Excellence Day last Wednesday. It was a great opportunity to highlight clinical cases, research, community service, PIP projects, and other topics. It was impressive to see your great accomplishments in the face of the many challenges of the last year.

Thank you to the OKU-Sutro Excellence Day committee for all of your work on the event: Chair: Dr. Karen Schulze; Faculty: Prof. Eve Cuny, Dr. Des Gallagher, Dr. Alan H. Gluskin, Ms. Lindsey Green, Dr. Rex Hoover, Dr. Terry Hoover, Dr. Jiong Hu, Prof. Lory Laughter, Dr. Cindy Lyon, Dr. Daniel Bender, Prof. Christine Miller, Dr. David Ojcius, Dr. Allen Wong, Dr. Debra Woo, Dr. Andrew Young; Staff: Sandra Derian, Katherine Falk, Joanna Faltys, Annie Han, Rowena O’Connor, Karl Pfeifer, Bonita Wong, Karita Zimmerman.

Read our news story about Excellence Day.

The June issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association features a cover story about COVID-19 among dentists in the United States. Given the production of aerosols during many dental procedures, dentists were thought to be at a higher risk for acquiring COVID-19 than other health care workers at the beginning of this pandemic. Nonetheless, a web-based survey reported in JADA revealed that the COVID-19 prevalence among dentists in the U.S. was low during the last year. The low prevalence is due to the high level of adherence by oral health care providers to strict infection control guidelines. Dentists, dental hygienists, and the dental team continue to follow the strict protocols, which should allow them to protect patients and dental clinic employees in the future. Read the report

New city initiatives are moving forward to support the post-pandemic recovery of downtown San Francisco. In our immediate neighborhood, Moscone West will undergo significant cleaning and repairs in July. Moscone West was being used for homeless sheltering services during the pandemic, but will transition back to use for conventions. At the end of June, the large white shower trailers on Minna Street will also be removed.    

Mayor London Breed last week announced a $9.5M proposal to support the downtown community. Funds would go to a series of downtown community ambassadors, improvements to Hallidie Plaza (at Powell Station), and other public spaces; and performances and events to welcome the return of downtown employees and visitors. Learn more here.

Be well, and my best wishes to you as we complete the last week and a half of a memorable academic year.