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Periodontics and Oral Medicine

Predoctoral Dentistry

Periodontics and Oral Medicine includes the disciplines of periodontics, oral medicine, oral diagnosis, oral radiology, oral pathology, dental hygiene, behavioral sciences and community dentistry. A major objective of the department is to approach the patient and his or her disease with a full complement of diagnostic resources. By using these resource, along with the diverse expertise and knowledge of faculty and staff, we can deliver enhanced awareness of the patient 's health and dental problems. In turn, we can provide support and care in the clinical setting. 

Periodontics is concerned with establishing and maintaining health for the structures that support the teeth. The educational program is designed to help students develop the ability to instruct patients in preventing periodontal diseases, diagnosing and treating gingivitis and moderate periodontitis, recognizing the interrelationships between periodontal diseases and systemic health, and recognizing and referring patients who require periodontal specialty care.

Oral Medicine and Diagnosis is the study of record taking, diagnosis and treatment  planning using didactic and clinical experiences throughout the dental curriculum.  Students will achieve proficiency in reporting and evaluating medical and dental histories; performing thorough head, neck and oral examinations; selecting, exposing and interpreting intraoral and extraoral radiographs; synthesizing the collected data into a problem list and differential diagnosis; and developing a logical treatment plan based on the patient's needs. Seminars, case presentations, clinical class conferences, and clinical experience complement the courses.

Oral Pathology is the study of the disease of the soft and calcified structures of the oral region. The various disease processes are studied with respect to causation, natural history, clinical behavior, relationship of a disease in one part to other parts and to the entire body. Oral pathology bridges two aspects of the health sciences: basic science and clinical practice. Knowledge is applied to clinical situations and various histological, immunological, molecular, serologic, and other parameters are used to determine diagnoses.

Behavioral Science focuses on the many ways in which psychosocial factors such as stress and depression affect our patients' oral health, their oral health promotion efforts, and the ways in which they utilize health care services. The educational program consists of three behavioral science courses that all dental students participate in during their first year in dental school. These courses are designed in such a way that they introduce the students to the principles of patient - provider communication (Behavioral Science I), the many ways in which patient characteristics such as age or mental health issues affect patients and their interactions with dentists and dental hygienists (Behavioral Science II) and provide the students with hands on communication skills training (Behavioral Science Practicum).

Community Dentistry has the goal of developing competent dental professionals who will assume responsible roles in their profession and communities. Societal, regulatory and ethical issues that confront practitioners are explored using real and simulated community situations, student projects and case studies. Principles of scientific methods including reviews of current dental literature are presented. Health education and health programming is presented as part of a simulated community education class on oral health. Within community experiences, selected students provide oral health care to migrant children and families. Research has focused on the etiology and prevention of oral diseases, quality of life related to oral health, electronic information management and the transfer of research knowledge into dental practice. Issues related to the special needs of the geriatric dental patient are addressed in a number of areas in the predoctoral curriculum.