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The University of Utah's New School of Dentistry WIll Benefit More than Future Dentists

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The University of Utah's New School of Dentistry WIll Benefit More than Future Dentists

Apr 01, 2015
The new School of Dentistry is opening at the University of Utah, but it’s exciting for everyone, not just future dentists. Dr. Glen Hanson is a professor and the Interim Dean at the new School of Dentistry. He says oral health is an important component of overall health, and the new school is providing care to people who might not otherwise get it. There are also new clinics and research facilities. Listen to this podcast to learn all about the new dentistry school and how it can benefit you!

Episode Transcript

Interviewer: Why you should be excited about the new University of Utah School of Dentistry. We'll examine that next on The Scope.

Announcer: We're your daily dose of science, conversation, medicine. This is the Scope, University of Utah Health Sciences Radio.

Interviewer: University of Utah School of Dentistry is in their brand new building and it's a reason to be excited. Why? We're with Dr. Glen Hanson. He's a professor and the Interim Dean at the University of Utah School of Dentistry. And why is this such an important addition to the University of Utah Health Care System?

Dr. Hanson: If you're concerned about overall health then you cannot ignore oral health. That has to be at the table when you have that discussion. And up until now, that hasn't been here at the University of Utah. We've had all the other pieces, but for many years there has not been the oral health piece that's been represented. And now the package is complete.

All the pieces of the puzzle are together, and now we can deal with the whole system. We can truly be a holistic health care system. Insurance companies, and Federal, and state compensation programs are going to be based on outcomes, they're not going to be based on procedures, which means if your patient is healthy, and healthy is the whole body, if your patient's healthy then that's how you get your maximum compensation.

Well, in order to make the whole body healthy you have to have all of the areas represented in the discussion. How do you prevent disease in general, not just disease in the nose, and disease in the eyes? It's disease throughout the whole body, and the dentist has as much influence and as much expertise to bring to that discussion as anybody else. It represents those various aspects of body and body health.

Interviewer: So you said the School of Dentistry kind of brings this complete picture of health to University of Utah Healthcare. There are other places, though, that a person could go to learn to be a dentist. What makes this School of Dentistry different?

Dr. Hanson: Because we are part of an institution that puts a lot of emphasis on research and we've got that complete health care package that is there now with the School of Dentistry that is unique. There has not been a Dental School that started in those kinds of environments for almost 30 years.

Interviewer: Here in the state?

Dr. Hanson: No, anywhere. Throughout the country.

Interviewer: Oh, really?

Dr. Hanson: There have been dental institutions that had been sort of independent, they've run their own thing, but they've not been part of the larger healthcare system, and they've not been part of the research establishment. So they've been standalone, some of them proprietary, whereas we are state-owned, and we're part of a university that has a reputation for outstanding research and outstanding healthcare in all aspects of health.

Interviewer: So talk about how the school's going to serve under-served populations. I know that's one of the big mission statements of the University of Utah School of Dentistry.

Dr. Hanson: We wanted to identify a specific mission that, one, would allow us to train students to do what dental students are supposed to do so that they can go out and be outstanding clinicians. But, two, we felt that there the University, or the School of Dentistry, had a responsibility to give back to the community. And the way that we felt that that could be best achieved was to help provide dental services for that population that oftentimes does not have access to it. And so we wanted the Dental School to be a tool to accomplish that. So our students, one, get the training to be good dentists; two, they provide a service to their community; and, three, they learn that they have a social responsibility with their skill-set.

Interviewer: So the School of Dentistry here at the University of Utah is not only a school, but also it's research, and you also have a clinic. Talk about the clinic, cause you have some specialized things going on here.

Dr. Hanson: Well, there's a large area of clinical chairs. Some 60+ clinical chairs where our dental students, they start going into the clinic even at the end of their first year. And then, by the second year, they're seeing patients and their doing procedures on them. We have an Oral Surgery Clinic, then we have a Pediatric Dentistry Clinic, and that's going to be one of our main emphases in this Dental School.

And we have several chairs there that are set up with monitors above the chairs, the children can see the monitors, they can have either television programs or movies running, and specially-trained pediatric dentists working with our students to learn how to deal with this population. They have special dental needs.

And then we have a Diagnostic Clinic, where we do the screening. And then we also are doing faculty practice, so some of our faculty do practice on maybe half to one or two days a week in another part of our clinic. So we're doing a lot of different dental procedures within that clinical setting. A very active area and as we have two classes now as we get our four classes that place is going to be hopping every day, morning and night.

Interviewer: How many students will that be then?

Dr. Hanson: We started off with 20 students. When we began, we made a commitment that we will identify the most outstanding 20 students we can find in the state. But we're a regional center. There are not many dental schools in this area, and then there are states, surrounding states, like Idaho, and Wyoming, and Montana, and North and South Dakota, New Mexico, they don't have dental schools, so all of their students have to leave the state. So we feel that we're in a position where we can be a regional dental school. So we're anticipating that we will get up to 40 students a class with 20 in-state and 20 regional students, but we have the capacity eventually to get up to 50 per class. And that will probably take awhile before we get there.

Interviewer: So 200 total students in here.

Dr. Hanson: We could do 200 students easily with the way the building is organized.

Interviewer: Wow. Just got to get more teachers.

Dr. Hanson: There you are. Well, and another thing that we're doing is we're trying to create satellite clinic opportunities. So it's one thing to learn how to practice within this very established and controlled structure that we call a dental school, it's another thing to get experiences that allow you to feel comfortable about going into private practice. And so that's what these satellite clinics will allow us to do. It's to put them into a more real-life dental setting, where they'll see patients in an environment that looks more like what their practice will look like. Plus it gives us another chance to interact with those populations that often times don't have access to dental services.

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