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A GLOBAL LEADER, AT THE FOREFRONT OF DENTISTRY: An overview of NYU College of Dentistry

Located along the NYU health sciences corridor on First Avenue in Manhattan, NYU College of Dentistry offers a unique, exceptional experience for students pursuing careers in oral health care.

Our students benefit from the largest and most diverse patient population in the U.S., expert faculty, innovative learning technologies, a wealth of research and outreach opportunities, exciting new leadership initiatives, and a commitment to fostering a deep understanding of dentistry’s integral role in overall health.

We’re focused on the future – advancing oral health, researching new treatments and methodologies, and preparing students to become exceptional providers and to lead the profession, with ample opportunities to “think big.”

In just the past few years, NYU Dentistry has opened the Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities; NYU Dentistry Brooklyn Patient Care; Metro Community Health Centers at NYU Dentistry, a federally qualified health center located on the first floor of the NYU Dental Center in Manhattan, providing DDS students with experience in the medical management of dental patients; and the NYU Dentistry Center for Oral Health Policy and Management, an interdisciplinary action lab that is working to develop and promote a national agenda for oral health policy and management that recognizes the fundamental relationship between oral health and overall health and the responsibilities that the dental professions have for the overall well-being of the public. And NYU Dentistry’s WHO Collaborating Center for Quality-improvement, Evidence-based Dentistry – one of only ten Collaborating Centers worldwide and the only one in the Americas – is focused on achieving oral health equity globally.

Educational Programs:

  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program
  • Dental Hygiene programs
  • Master’s degree programs: Biomaterials, Clinical Research, Dual MS
  • Advanced Education: Endodontics, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics, Pediatric Dentistry, Periodontics, Prosthodontics
  • Advanced Clinical Fellowship Programs: Apa Advanced Clinical Fellowship in Aesthetic Dentistry, Operative and Digital Dentistry, Implant Dentistry, Oral Surgery

Fast Facts:

  • NYU Dentistry is the 3rd oldest and the largest dental school in the U.S.
  • 300,000 patient visits annually ensure superb clinical training for students
  • Nearly 10% of dentists in the U.S have been educated at NYU Dentistry
  • NYU Dentistry is ranked 5th in the U.S. in National Institutes of Health research funding
  • 21,000+ alumni network practicing worldwide
  • 1,959 students across all academic programs
  • 93 NIH-funded and other funded researchers advance science every day
  • 14 Academic Societies, each lead by a Senior Mentor, promote a strong sense of community and afford DDS students small-group learning and mentoring experiences while still having access to the vast resources of a large university
  • An average of 27 students per class year in each Academic Society, supported by its own Student Success Network, which connects every DDS student with a network of academic advisors, peer tutors, and peer and faculty mentors who provide one-on-one guidance and support to promote success from the moment students enter at Orientation

MOVING THE NEEDLE: NYU Dentistry’s Center for Oral Health Policy and Management Addresses Advocacy and Leadership Issues

The NYU Dentistry Center for Oral Health Policy and Management, an interdepartmental, interdisciplinary action laboratory, was founded in 2021 on the premise that the current oral health policy and management environment in the U.S. requires a holistic approach to the situation — one that has been lacking.

“While tremendous strides have been made in improving the oral health status of Americans through scientific breakthroughs, many are left without access to basic dental care,” notes Dean Charles Bertolami. “Dental benefits remain separated from other health care coverage and out of reach for many individuals and families,” he added.

In addition, the rigorous curriculum for dental students focuses predominantly on basic sciences and clinical care, but most learn little about the complexity of the dental and general health care systems of which they will soon be a part. The center aims to change this through new programming and academic offerings on oral health policy and leadership.

Access to Care and Advocacy Initiatives

“NYU Dentistry is uniquely well positioned to undertake these challenges,” said Richard Valachovic, DMD, MPH, a clinical professor at NYU Dentistry and president emeritus of the American Dental Education Association, who serves as founding director of the center.

Several of the College’s access to care and advocacy initiatives align with critical issues related to oral health policy and management.

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Developing Adaptive Leaders for the Future

Another priority for the NYU Dentistry for Oral Health Management and Policy is to develop the next generation of policy-oriented leaders for the dental and related health care professions through creating new leadership programming and courses.

“The major reason given by dental school deans and independent search firms for not filling vacancies for faculty and dental leadership positions is a lack of qualified candidates,” said Michael P. O’Connor, EdD, MPA, executive vice dean at NYU Dentistry, who serves as co-director of the center. “The center strives to develop adaptive leaders who are prepared to perform in uncertain environments in the future using a differentiating character-based model of leadership, one that develops leadership habits and attitudes that aim for human flourishing in organizations, communities, and society.”

These concerns propelled NYU Dentistry to create a portfolio of leadership opportunities for students at the College. These include:  

  • The NYU Dentistry Leadership Track. This program is open to all students throughout the academic year. In 2022, this offering was enhanced by formalizing it as a twice-monthly lecture series focused on character-based leadership, and also opened it to all administrators, staff, and faculty along with students. 
  • Student Leadership Mock Congressional Hearing. Each spring, students are invited to apply for this competitive program, which trains students in leadership advocacy and public speaking. Participants prepare and deliver testimony on a health policy topic before a mock congressional committee panel.
  • The NYU Dentistry Dental Student Leadership Institute (DDSLI). Each year, up to 35 D1 students are selected to take part in the DDSLI. Over the next three years, participants are given access to seminars, workshops, internships, mentoring, and other opportunities designed to prepare them to manage the complex challenges of advancing oral health in the 21st century.
  • Global Health Care Leaders: Washington, DC. Students from across the College of Dentistry, including advanced standing international students and dental hygiene program students, are eligible to apply for this professional development experience, which takes students to NYU’s DC campus to hear from oral health advocates and meet with federal lawmakers.
  • Global Health Care Leaders: NYU Global Academic Centers. D4 students are eligible to apply for this international experience. Selected students travel to one of NYU’s Global Campuses each year to explore complex policy issues with leaders in government and oral health advocacy. In fall 2023, the experience took place at NYU’s Villa LaPietra in Florence, Italy.

The process of leadership development differs significantly from most other experiences in dental education. Leadership is an art; it is creative and experiential rather than scientific. To foster leaders who will ensure a healthy future for dentistry, a different kind of education must be available.  Despite the familiar adage, leaders are made, not born. While certain leadership qualities are native or part of a personality, leadership also requires specific knowledge and skills. Fortunately for all of us, these can be learned and cultivated.

NYU Dentistry is committed to cultivating students who can carry on the work begun by today’s oral health care leaders. Our first cohort of students has been engaged in the new DDSLI curriculum for just over two years, and already they are demonstrating an understanding of what leadership is all about.

Advocacy and Access-to-Care Initiatives

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  1. The NYU Dentistry Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities (OHCPD)

The OHCPD provides care based on a deep commitment to assuring disabled patients, their families, and caregivers that they aren’t just cared for, but cared about. Our dental care providers have the specialized skillsets needed to provide sensitive, essential care for individuals whose disability or disabilities prevent them from being treated in a conventional dental setting. Every component of the center has been designed to accommodate the physical and support needs of our patients, their families, and/or caregivers. And because it provides dental care across the lifespan, the center offers a dental home for disabled patients on an ongoing basis.

Special accommodations available for patients with intellectual and/or developmental (I/DD) include:

  • Multisensory room: Designed to reduce patients’ agitation and anxiety, help them relax, and engage their senses. Amenities include a bubble tube; noise-cancelling headphones; soothing, adjustable, multi-colored lighting; weighted blankets; body socks; and a projection screen.
  • Wheelchair tilt: Designed to accommodate patients receiving dental treatment in their own wheelchairs, without the need to transfer to a dental chair.
  • Bariatric chairs: Designed to accommodate patients up to 650 pounds.
  • Spacious, private treatment rooms: Designed to offer privacy and comfort, with soothing, adjustable, multi-colored lighting; noise-cancelling headphones; and personal entertainment tablets.
  • Sedation: A complete team meets all the needs of physically and intellectually disabled patients who require varying levels of pain and anxiety control, including the use of conscious and deep sedation, and general anesthesia techniques. 

Advocacy Initiatives, as part of its advocacy initiatives on behalf of access to care for people with disabilities, the OHCPD:

  • conducts a continuing education program, Unit Zero, to train dentists and their staff to provide care for people with disabilities.
  • Members the OHCPD team regularly appear before the New York City Council, the State Legislature in Albany, New York, and Congress in Washington, DC, to advocate for funds on behalf of the OHCPD.
  • The OHCPD also sponsors an annual AHEAD (Achieving Health Equity through Access for All with Disabilities) Symposium. The annual symposium brings together experts in the areas of health care advocacy, access, and funding at the state and federal levels for people with disabilities.  

In addition, The NYU Dentistry Center for Oral Health Policy and Management has presented an inaugural PROHmotion Symposium (Policy & Research in Oral Health: Moving Forward). The symposium brought together experts in the fields of health policy, education, research, leadership, and advocacy to discuss how these fields intersect and explored actions to advance the profession’s ability to fulfill the responsibilities it has for the overall well-being of the public. A second PROHmotion Symposium is being planned.

  • Serving Those Who Served: NYU Dentistry’s VOCARE Program

NYU College of Dentistry is celebrating the second anniversary of the Veterans Oral Care Access Resource (VOCARE), part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ VETSmile program, a pilot program designed to improve dental care access for veterans who are not eligible for dental care through the VA by partnering with community providers like NYU.

During the second year of VETSmile/VOCARE, 2,245 veterans received dental care over a total of 16,825 encounters. Nearly 32,000 procedures were completed.

VETSmile/VOCARE is a partnership between NYU Dentistry and the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, which includes campuses in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, and the VA Bronx Health Care/Veterans Affairs. Through the program, the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System and the Bronx VA refer veterans who are not eligible to receive dental services at the VA to NYU for comprehensive care at no out-of-pocket cost to the veteran.

Veterans are seen at NYU College of Dentistry in Manhattan and at NYU Dentistry Brooklyn Patient Care.  Some veterans, including those with a history of post-traumatic stress disorder, are seen at the NYU Dentistry Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities, where the staff are trained with special skill sets to ensure quality treatment and holistic care for people with disabilities and complex medical conditions.

  • Community-based Programs

A major component of the NYU College of Dentistry mission is extensive community outreach. Faculty from many departments lead NYU dental, dental hygiene, and postgraduate students in a wide range of patient care initiatives, traveling throughout the five boroughs of New York City to provide care to underserved populations.

The College’s mobile dental van, Smiling Faces, Going Places, is a unique program that brings comprehensive dental care to underserved children in New York City at public schools and Head Start facilities.

Part of NYU’s teaching mission consists of preparing students for lives in a diverse world, and our faculty believe that such preparation is most effective through collaboration. Our relationship to New York City — the diversity of thought represented by all our schools, colleges, and programs, and our internationally connected and collaborative faculty — enable students and faculty alike to broaden the scope and vision of knowledge through interdisciplinary and interprofessional learning to make a real difference in the world.  Dentist shortages are widespread: In 25 states and the District of Columbia, at least 10 percent of residents do not have adequate access to a dentist.

There are volunteer opportunities for all four years. In the D3 and D4 year, participation in community-based outreach programs is required. Some of the long-standing NYU Dentistry health education and treatment initiatives provided to underserved children in New York City by the NYU Department of Pediatric Dentistry include:

  • Screenings and education to over 1,000 children in public schools and childcare centers.
  • Exams and fluoride varnish for 4,000 preschool-aged children at 80 different centers (Head Start).
  • School-based sealant program at four public schools with over 400 sealants placed.
  • Parent & staff workshops on children’s oral health given at childcare centers and public schools.
  • Graham Windham partnership providing comprehensive care to children and adolescents in foster care, with over 1600 patient visits since 2011.
  • Participating in over a dozen health fairs and community events, including two Special Olympics events.
  • “Playing It Safe” Mouth Guard Program, providing preventive services at community centers and schools.
  • A community outreach program with a special emphasis on meeting the dental needs of older New Yorkers brings care to people at community-based facilities, including food pantries, homeless shelters, centers for abused women, foreign missions, senior centers, and foster care agencies.
  • Migrant Families Outreach Program

The newest addition to the Community-based programs is an initiative to enable migrant children and their families to receive dental care. More than 110,000 people seeking asylum have arrived in New York City since last spring—many of them families with young children. These children are facing a range of challenges, from the trauma of a difficult journey to the United States to unstable housing and language barriers in their new schools. One little-discussed challenge: poor oral health and a high prevalence of dental caries. 

Research shows that refugee children experience many barriers to receiving dental care, including cost, different cultural norms and beliefs about oral health, difficulty navigating the healthcare system, and language barriers. NYU Dentistry’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry has been working to remove these obstacles to provide a range of services to meet the oral health needs of children from migrant and asylum-seeking families in New York City—often where they already are. Their approach is three-fold: 

  • Outreach events – NYU dental professionals and students take part in outreach events to provide oral health education, toothbrushes, dental exams, and apply fluoride varnish to children’s teeth. Thus far, they’ve provided dental exams and fluoride varnish to approximately 300 children and have shared oral health information and resources with approximately 1,200 families at Open Arms Resource Fairs at The Shed, a community event organized by the Department of Education to provide resources to families living in NYC’s temporary housing.
  • School-based care – NYU Dentistry provides dental screenings and care in New York City public schools and Head Start centers. School-based care has been shown to lower the barriers to dental care by bringing care to children. In several high-need schools—including those with large numbers of migrant children—students are seen twice a year for cleanings, fluoride, sealants, x-rays and even restorations and extractions, serving as the children’s “dental home.” An estimated 200children from asylum-seeking families are receiving ongoing dental care in NYC schools.  
  • Follow-up care at NYU Dentistry – Children who are screened at outreach events and those who are seen in schools but need more in-depth care that is best provided in a dental office are invited to schedule appointments at NYU Dentistry. Care is provided at no cost to families, with funding from New York City Council covering the cost of basic oral health care for children who are uninsured. A grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation provides additional funds for dental care, as well as transportation to and from NYU, as getting children to appointments is a significant barrier to care. 
  • Let’s GO! Student Service, Education, and Research Around the World

For over 20 years, NYU Dentistry’s Global Outreach program has built an exemplary global outreach model that provides participants with a unique service-learning experience, opportunities to conduct critically-needed research, and an increased awareness of access to care issues, while fostering a passion for volunteerism and social responsibility.

The program has become the largest, voluntary, university-based dental outreach program in the world. Participants on these outreaches—who included dental students, postgraduate students, dental hygiene students, and international students–speak of being challenged to re-think their roles as health care providers and describe their experiences as “transformative.” Equally important, the communities served by these programs are empowered by NYU Dentistry’s outreach model as sustainable oral health services become a reality. Outreach sites have included Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Pokhara and Surkhet, Nepal; Granada, Nicaragua; and Cape Town, South Africa. Within the United States, students have provided care and conducted research in Hudson, Plattsburgh, and Poughkeepsie, New York; Machias, Maine; and several villages in Alaska.

This year, the Global Outreach Program team will travel to the following locations:

  • Machias, Maine, USA
  • Monticello, New York, USA
  • Eleuthera, Bahamas
  • La Romana, Dominican Republic
  • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  • Santiago, Chile

SIGNALING HOPE: NYU Dentistry Opens the NYU Pain Research Center

A Conversation with Dr. Brian Schmidt

Adapted and reprinted with permission from Global Health Nexus, the flagship publication of NYU Dentistry.

On January 1, 2022, NYU Dentistry opened the NYU Pain Research Center. The new Center brings together a cadre of investigators with interest and experience in the neurobiology of pain, provides mentorship, recruits and trains the next generation of basic science and clinical pain investigators, and facilitates clinical trials of new non-opioid pain therapies.

The Center has been in the planning stage for several years by Brian Schmidt, DDS, MD, PhD, and Nigel Bunnett, PhD. Dr. Schmidt is the senior vice dean for research development and academic affairs and the director of the NYU Oral Cancer Center and the NYU Dentistry Translational Research Center and a professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery. Dr. Bunnett is professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Pathobiology and assistant dean for research development. We spoke with Dr. Schmidt recently about the NYU Pain Research Center’s project to provide alternatives to opioids to treat chronic pain.

Why is research into chronic pain so important?

Dr. Schmidt: The National Institutes of Health estimates that 100 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 20% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them and 8-12% of people using an opioid for chronic pain develop an opioid use disorder. Opioid abuse leads to lost productivity, reduced quality of life, and rising health care costs. Since 2000, opioids have caused half a million deaths in the United States. The toll of these pointless deaths on friends, families, and communities is impossible to overstate.

What makes this the right time to establish a pain research center at NYU Dentistry?

Dr. Schmidt: Pain research falls squarely within the mission of the College of Dentistry. Our faculty and students serve a large population of patients who endure acute and/or chronic pain, and there is a persuasive case to be made for founding a pain center within NYU Dentistry. Our school already employs numerous investigators with expertise in basic science pain research as well as clinical pain research, and our facilities can easily accommodate additional pain studies. Eight investigators within four departments currently undertake federally funded pain research related to oral cancer pain, colitis pain, headache, and itch. And through collaboration with investigators from NYU Langone Health, NYU College of Arts and Science, NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and NYU Meyers College of Nursing, as well as extramural investigators, the work of the NYU Pain Research Center transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Are there plans to recruit additional pain researchers?

Dr. Schmidt: Definitely. We have been given the green light to hire about three new pain research faculty each year for the next several years. Ultimately, about 15 faculty members will be associated with the Center. The recruitment of additional pain researchers with a focus on facilitating clinical trials of new non-opioid pain therapies will set us apart from other dental schools. More federally funded research will be undertaken, collaborative opportunities for investigators will be expanded, and we will cement our reputation as a preeminent research institution.

How is the Center being funded?

Dr. Schmidt: The Center launched with more than more than $37 million in NIH and Department of Defense grants. In addition, the Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda has committed to some seed funding.

It is our intention to submit an NIH Program Project Grant application to support the core facilities that will underpin the Center. The formal structure and explicit purpose of the Center could help researchers garner federal resources to address the vexatious problem of pain. Indeed, the former NIH Director Francis S. Collins recently launched the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative to accelerate new approaches to pain treatment to combat the opioid crisis. The NYU Pain Research Center aligns our research efforts more closely with federally established priorities and our structured approach will improve our competitiveness with related federal grant opportunities.

What is your long-term vision for the NYU Pain Research Center?

Dr. Schmidt: NYU Dentistry is already a leader in clinical research; the Translational Research Center is the most tangible product of institutional support for clinical and translational research at any dental school in the country. The NYU Pain Research Center will play to the strengths of our clinical research facilities and expertise and will maximize the utility of resources already in play. It will be an incubator where basic scientists, clinician scientists, and clinicians learn from each other and collaborate. Basic scientists will have the unique opportunity to interact directly with patients and gain firsthand knowledge of the clinical challenges in treating pain. Ultimately, patients will benefit from the knowledge gleaned from work facilitated by the Center.

TOMORROW’S DENTISTRY TODAY: Virtual Reality and Robotics

Dentistry is undergoing one of the most remarkable transitions in its history. The use of digital imaging technology in daily practice is being further enhanced by the introduction of artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, progress is being made in the quest to reduce radiation exposure. Magnetic resonance imaging and robotics may soon be routinely used to plan implant or orthodontic treatments while ultrasound transducers monitor periodontal inflammation and bone graft healing.

Virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) are becoming established technologies with a wide range of possibilities. 3-D imaging, computer-aided design, and manufacturing technologies such as 3-D printing are also transforming the materials and processes dentists use to restore teeth. Most notably, long-lasting dental implants are rapidly supplanting older restorative techniques in many dentists’ treatment plans for their patients.

The following provides an overview of the current use of some of these technologies in dental education, and at NYU in particular, explores their impact on teaching and learning, and envisages their potential in this field.

What is VR and AR . . . and MR?

Broadly, VR can be thought of as immersion into a computer-generated environment. By contrast, AR can be thought of as superimposition of a computer-generated environment on reality. In short, VR replaces reality while AR supplements it. And merged reality can be thought of as interaction with and manipulation of both the physical and virtual environment.

The following are some examples of augmented reality (AR) vs. Virtual Reality (VR)

Augmented Reality (AR)

  • Overlays computer generated 3D content on the real world.
  • Users can interact with the real world and the virtual world.
  • Users can clearly distinguish between both worlds.
  • AR is achieved by smartphones, tablets, and/or AR wearables.

VS

Virtual Reality (VR)

  • Visually immerses the user with simulated objects and environment.
  • Completely shuts down the real world and makes user think that they are really in the virtual world.
  • Users find it hard to differentiate between virtual and real world.
  • Achieved by VT headsets.

Currently, AR ad VR are being developed, researched, and used in dental education at various institutions in the US and abroad for all kinds of dental disciplines.

Educational Goals/Objectives for Using VR in Dentistry include:

  • Building foundational knowledge and skills
  • Providing more opportunities to practice and learn
  • Address educational gaps (e.g., plastic manikin vs virtual reality)
  • Streamline administrative work (e.g., feedback, scoring)
  • Remediation/standardization
  • Student and instructor satisfaction
  • Patient satisfaction

At NYU, VR techniques are being used in several programs, including haptic feedback in dental hygiene and virtual reality surgery, as well as in the examples below.

VR for Surgery: Haptic Feedback for Local Anesthesia Training

NYU Dentistry, in collaboration with NYU Abu Dhabi, is developing and evaluating haptic feedback in a virtual reality (VR) local anesthesia training simulation, specifically for the inferior alveolar nerve block (IANB). This VR-based training program is currently in use by all second-year students at NYU Dentistry as part of their preclinical training.

In addition to an immersive visual experience, this project enables dental students to experience the tactile sensation of inserting a real needle in a patient by using a haptic interface designed specifically for this purpose. A 3D printed carpule syringe has been designed and attached to the Geomagic haptic interface to provide a realistic grip experience in addition to providing force feedback during the anesthesia procedure.

Haptic data, such as position, orientation, force, speed, etc., is recorded to provide a quantitative measure of the quality of performance. The ability of haptic feedback to improve learning outcomes is being evaluated using an experimental study with dental professors and students from NYU Dentistry. The results from the quantitative evaluation will be cross-validated using subjective feedback from dental professors and students.

Robotic technology enhances dental education and clinical practice

In 2022, dental students at NYU became the first in the U.S. to perform dental implant surgery using state-of-the-art robotic technology.

NYU Dentistry is one of only three dental schools in the nation with a robotic system for dental implant surgery. While NYU faculty and postdoctoral students have completed approximately 150 dental implant cases since acquiring robotic technology the previous year, this surgery marked the first time that dental students led the procedure from start to finish.

Three students performed robot-assisted dental implant surgery under faculty supervision. The students, who were completing their third year of dental school, had already been observers and surgical assistants for approximately 20 faculty-led implant procedures using robotic technology.

On the day of the surgery, imaging was conducted using both a handheld intraoral scanner and cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) to create detailed 3D images of the patient’s oral cavity. The team used the imaging to plan for the precise placement of the dental implant to replace a single tooth.

The students then used the robotic system to guide them in implementing the plan. The system uses haptic technology to provide real-time, physical cues, augmenting a provider’s “feel” and assisting them in the accurate placement of the dental implant. While the robotic arm acts as a guide and can adjust to a patient’s movement in real time to maintain the proper alignment of the implant, the provider always maintains control of the dental handpiece.

At NYU, robotic technology is now an elective for all interested DDS students and part of the curriculum for all postgraduate students.

Conclusion

While Augmented Reality (AR) in dental education offers enhanced learning experiences to cost effectiveness, challenges like technical limitations, content development, and a learning curve need to be considered when integrating AR into dental curricula. In short, the actual significance of VR simulation on dental education outcomes is not entirely clear. VR significantly enhanced the acquisition of dental manual skills even in short periods of training. However, few studies report longer periods of follow up and insignificant differences between virtual and traditional groups. The actual significance of VR simulation on dental education outcomes is not entirely clear. Also, challenges like cost, technical issues, and ethical considerations need to be addressed to fully harness its potential for educating the next generation of dental professionals.

BELLISSIMA! NYU Dentistry Advances Aesthetic Dentistry Programs with Alumnus Michael Apa

Internationally renowned education program and new clinical suite will honor leader in aesthetic dentistry

“Make the most out of what you worked so hard to obtain.”

This inspirational advice in NYU College of Dentistry’s Class of 2003 yearbook came from Michael Apa, DDS, then a newly minted dentist with a passion for aesthetics. In the 20 years since his graduation from NYU, Dr. Apa has helped to transform the evolving field of aesthetic dentistry and distinguished himself as one of its leaders.

Now, Dr. Apa is “making the most” of his achievements by investing in the dentists of tomorrow and enhancing the College’s programs in aesthetic dentistry.

In recognition of Dr. Apa and his contributions to the field, NYU Dentistry will rename its education program in aesthetic dentistry the Apa Advanced Clinical Fellowship in Aesthetics. The College is also establishing the Apa Aesthetic Suite at the College, a state-of-the-art clinical space and the first permanent home for aesthetic dentistry education at NYU. These advances are made possible by a transformational gift from Dr. Apa.

“We are so grateful that Dr. Apa has chosen to support NYU College of Dentistry, the institution that shaped him as a dentist and set him on his path to success,” said Dean Bertolami. “Dr. Apa is recognized internationally as a leader and innovator in aesthetic dentistry, and we are eager to incorporate his experience and vision to further strengthen our programs.”

“Having found a home at NYU during my time as a student, it is my hope that the next generation of dentists will share that experience, and they too will set out to have an impact on our profession and the world around them,” said Dr. Apa.

Dr. Apa will collaborate with Anabella Oquendo, DDS, director of the renamed Apa Advanced Clinical Fellowship in Aesthetics, to provide input on bringing international and U.S. dentists state-of-the-art training that restores and enhances natural smiles. The renowned, one-year program has attracted practicing dentists from 47 countries to study the latest techniques in aesthetic dentistry.

“Channeling Dr. Apa’s expertise and enthusiasm into our clinical fellowship program will bring new vitality to our training in aesthetic dentistry, a field that goes beyond appearances, intertwining beauty, health, and function. As we enhance smiles, we elevate confidence and promote overall oral health, which contribute to improved well-being,” said Dr. Oquendo, the assistant dean for international programs at NYU Dentistry.

The new Apa Aesthetic Suite, designed in collaboration with Dr. Apa, will be located on the first floor of NYU Dentistry. Planning for renovations to the existing clinical space will begin this fall, and the suite will open in fall 2024.

“As dentists, we work at the intersection of health and art. I look forward to helping to transform this space into a suite that reflects the design and energy of our craft and inspires both patients and clinicians,” added Dr. Apa.

As one of the world’s most sought-after aesthetic dentists, with practices in New York, Los Angeles, and Dubai, Dr. Apa has maintained his connection to NYU Dentistry as a lecturer and mentor to dental students. His passion for aesthetic dentistry blossomed while at NYU, where he founded NYU Dentistry’s Aesthetics Society and was part of the College’s Aesthetics Honors Program.

Honors Program in Aesthetic Dentistry named for Dr. Apa

The naming of the Apa Honors Program in Aesthetic Dentistry, an elective course for fourth-year dental students, recognizes Dr. Apa’s excellence in and contributions to the field of aesthetic dentistry. Beginning in the fall of 2024, the honors program will be housed in the new Apa Aesthetic Suite, a state-of-the-art clinical space on the first floor of NYU Dentistry and the College’s first permanent home for aesthetic dentistry education.

The honors program in aesthetic dentistry was founded in 2000 and since directed by John Calamia, DMD, the co-developer of Bonded Porcelain Veneer Technology. Dr. Calamia was Dr. Apa’s professor at NYU Dentistry and Dr. Apa credits him with being an influential figure and mentor in his interest and early development in aesthetic dentistry.

“Dr. Michael Apa is one of our most prominent alumni members of the Honors Program in Aesthetics family. I am truly grateful to Michael for providing a permanent home for this program to be housed in the soon-to-be-constructed, state-of-the-art Apa Aesthetic Suite. He has stepped up to the plate and showed his commitment to the continuance of a program that has started him and many others on their journey to provide responsible aesthetic restoration as the focus in their careers,” said Dr. Calamia.

In the Apa Honors Program in Aesthetic Dentistry, students will continue to receive didactic and clinical experience, participating in lectures, seminars, literature reviews, and case presentations as well as dedicated weekly clinical sessions to treat advanced aesthetic cases. The clinical sessions enable students to develop treatment plans and complete aesthetic restorations using a range of cutting-edge materials and methods for inlays, onlays, crowns, porcelain veneers, and ceramic bridges. Students learn to use high-tech equipment for planning and restoration, including CAD/CAM and lasers, as adjuncts to traditional restorative treatment.

Students enter the honors program through a competitive application and interview process; eight to 12 DDS students are accepted to this D4 program.

“At NYU Dentistry, we truly value Dr. Apa’s ongoing dedication, vision, and commitment to advancing aesthetic dentistry, making a lasting impact. His pursuit of excellence serves as a source of inspiration to our students,” said Anabella Oquendo, DDS, assistant dean for international programs and director of the Apa Advanced Clinical Fellowship in Aesthetics.

ON THE HORIZON: Exploring New Degree Opportunities Integrated with Advanced Clinical Training

Propelled by our collaborative and entrepreneurial mindset, and recognizing that the need for qualified dental faculty is a global challenge, the College is currently exploring the creation of a new degree program, a Doctor of Science in Dentistry (DScDent) degree, which is envisioned as a professional degree program suitable for outstanding dental health professionals seeking additional education in one of five thematic areas: Research (basic or applied); Public Health; Leadership; Educational Technology or Sub-specialization in Clinical Fields such as implantology, care for people with disabilities, and aesthetic dentistry. Successful applicants to the DScDent program would exhibit a career interest in one of these five thematic areas, evidence of excellent scholarship, and research potential.

While the program is still in the planning stages, the College anticipates that the DScDent program would appeal to international dental school faculty and those who aspire to become faculty. International students may be attracted to our DScDent program because of its relatively short duration and because it could be efficiently combined with specialty or other clinical programs via separate degree tracks.

Dental faculty with education and credentials in teaching and learning, clinical research, and leadership are relatively rare and yet are a critical aspect of improving oral health globally. We invite you to contact us and learn more about our plans for this program and other exciting new initiatives on the horizon at NYU Dentistry. Our tradition of innovative thinking – all in service of improving public health – provides the headwind needed to continue to advance programs, partnerships, and people who are energized to join NYU Dentistry and imagine a world where everyone smiles.®


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