Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dental school, community clinics team up on prosthodontic project

The School of Dentistry is enhancing long-standing partnerships with two community health care organizations to initiate a pilot program that will provide much-needed prosthodontic care for patients to help them improve their biting, chewing, and speaking functions.

Supervised by clinical faculty, fourth-year dental students will evaluate and provide basic prosthodontic treatment to patients at the Community Dental Center, 404 N. Ashley St., Ann Arbor, March 15. In addition, patients normally treated at the Hope Dental Clinic, 9 S. Adams, Ypsilanti, and who need prosthodontic care will be evaluated and treated at the CDC.

Prosthodontics is a dental specialty involving the diagnosis, treatment planning, and fabrication of artificial parts to replace missing teeth and their associated structures.

Two dental students will screen patients for edentulism (tooth loss), assess the patient’s needs and how their edentulism affects their quality of life, and collaborate with dental faculty and staff dentists at the Community Dental Center to develop a treatment plan.

The initial screening will last approximately 1? hours. The treatments may require up to 10 hours of care during four visits. As many as eight patients may be evaluated and receive care daily during the three-year pilot program.

Dr. Howard Hamerink, adjunct clinical associate professor of prosthodontics, will supervise the dental students.

“We will treat uninsured or underinsured patients and who have few options for access to prosthodontic treatment,” he says. Data gathered may ultimately be used to evaluate and treat patients with similar conditions at other oral health care clinics across Michigan.

“This initiative combines the school’s classroom and clinical education programs with its outreach efforts where our students provide oral health care in communities where there is a pressing need for oral health care,” says Dr. Stephen Stefanac, associate dean for patient services. “This initiative will allow our dental students to complement their experiences in dental school clinics by collaborating with outstanding partners at both the Community Dental Center and the Hope Dental Clinic.”