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Dentistry is just the beginning

The mission of the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine is to provide outstanding programs in oral health education, patient care, research and scholarship, and service that are of value to our constituents. We accomplish this in an environment that fosters collegiality and professionalism that enables a diverse group of students to become competent practitioners of dentistry and contribute to the health and well-being of individuals and populations.

Research Finds that Treating Gum Disease Reduces Prostate Symptoms

Dr. Nabil Bissada‌‌Researchers from CWRU School of Dental Medicine and the Departments of Urology and Pathology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center report that treating gum disease reduced symptoms of prostate inflammation, called prostatitis. “This study shows that if we treat the gum disease, it can improve the symptoms of prostatitis and the quality of life for those who have the disease,” said Nabil Bissada, chair of the Department of Periodontics and the study’s corresponding author. Naif Alwithanani, a graduate student in the dental school, led the investigation as part of his residency in periodontics. Bissada explained that gum disease not only affects the mouth, but is a system-wide condition that can cause inflammation in various parts of the body. The dental school has previously found a link between gum disease and fetal deaths, rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease.

Researchers studied 27 men, 21 years old and older. Each had confirmed inflammation of the prostate gland and a blood test that showed elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels—possible signs of inflammation and cancer. The men were assessed for symptoms of prostate disease by answering questions on the International-Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) test about their quality of life and possible urination issues.

All the men had moderate to severe gum disease, for which they received treatment. They were tested again for periodontal disease four to eight weeks later and showed significant improvement. During the periodontal care, the men received no treatment for their prostate conditions, but 21 of the 27 men showed decreased levels of PSA. Those with the highest levels of inflammation benefited the most from the periodontal treatment. Symptom scores on the IPSS test also showed improvement.

Bissada is now conducting follow-up research to support the first study’s findings. He hopes to make periodontal treatment a standard part of treating prostate disease, much like cardiac patients are often encouraged to visit their dentist before undergoing heart procedures and a dental checkup is advised for women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy.

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Education Level, Dental Habits of Low-Income Parents Linked to Children’s Oral Health

Dr. Masahiro Heima‌‌Studies have long associated low-income areas with poor oral health, but dental researchers at CWRU and University of Washington sensed that other factors related to income may be at work—in particular, education level. So, with data from 423 low-income African-American kindergarteners and their caregivers, researchers tested the hypothesis that a caregiver’s education level influences how often they and their children brush their teeth and visit the dentist for routine checkups, and how those habits result in decayed or filled teeth.

Caregivers who completed high school were 1.76 times more likely to visit the dentist, compared with those who did not graduate high school, and their children were nearly six times more likely to visit the dentist routinely. The education level of caregivers was directly associated with about a third fewer untreated decayed teeth, and 28 percent fewer decayed or filled teeth among the children they cared for.

The findings, reported in the Caries Research article “Caregiver’s Education Level and Children Dental Caries in African Americans: A Path Analytic Study,” confirm the role of caregiver education in child dental decay and indicate that the caregiver’s behavior influences a child’s oral health habits. Researchers hope to encourage parents to become better role models for their children, who pick up on both the positive and negative habits of their caregivers.

When dental problems where found during annual exams, letters were sent to parents to tell them their children needed follow-up dental care. But not all caregivers sought help for their children, Masahiro Heima, a pediatric dentist and faculty member at Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine, said. “Changing their ways with literature and instructions, didn’t always work,” said Heima. “So we need to focus on behavioral changes.”

Lee Wonik and Suchitra Nelson, from CWRU School of Dental Medicine, and Peter Milgrom, from University of Washington School of Dentistry, contributed to the study.

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Commencement Ceremony to Include Honorary Degree for Henry Schein CEO

Henry Schein Inc. CEO and Chairman Stanley BergmanAs approximately 2,000 students receive their bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees at this year's commencement ceremonies, four esteemed professionals from a variety of industries will also be recognized with honorary degrees. This year's commencement speaker, former Warner Bros. CEO and Chairman Barry Meyer (LAW '67), will be recognized, along with former Lockheed Martin Corp. CEO and Chairman Norman Augustine, professor of molecular biology and public policy at Princeton University Adel Mahmoud, and Henry Schein Inc. CEO and Chairman Stanley Bergman.

Henry Schein, Inc. is the world's largest provider of health care products and services to office-based dental, animal health, and medical practitioners. With more than 17,500 Team Schein members in 29 countries, the company had sales of $10.4 billion in 2014. The company has appeared on Fortune's World's Most Admired company list for 14 consecutive years, ranking #1 in its industry in 2015. Henry Schein and the School of Dental Medicine have had a long mutually beneficial relationship and they have been supportive of the school's vision of moving to the new Health Education Campus. In addition to leading Henry Schein, Bergman is a board member or advisor for numerous educational and health care-related institutions and an honorary member of the American Dental Association and Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity.

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CWRU and Cleveland Clinic Collaborate with Microsoft on Mixed-Reality Technology

Student Using HoloLens Technology (Microsoft)‌Microsoft HoloLens is the first fully untethered, see-through holographic computer, enabling high-definition holograms to come to life, seamlessly integrating with physical places, spaces, and things. Holograms mixed with the real world (mixed-reality) will unlock all-new ways to create, communicate, work, and play. CWRU Radiology Professor Mark Griswold spoke at Microsoft’s annual Build conference about how Microsoft’s HoloLens program can transform learning across countless subjects, from art to engineering, but began with a demonstration of a holographic heart. With HoloLens, students can, “see it truly in 3D. You can take parts in and out. You can turn it around. You can see the blood pumping—the entire system.” In other words, it can improve upon existing educational methods, and will do so for CWRU students at the new Health Education Campus.

After deciding to move forward with the new Health Education Campus, Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove approached Microsoft for a collaboration so that the state-of-the-art structure will also have pioneering technology and cutting-edge teaching techniques. Though the program has potential applications for engineering, astronomy, art history, and any number of other programs, the priority is on creating a full digital anatomy curriculum that students will experience at the new Health Education Campus.

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Oral Pain Specialists Among Small Group Treating Complex Health Issues

Dr. Andres PintoAndres Pinto, an orofacial pain and oral medicine specialist and chair of the Oral and Maxillofacial Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences (OMMDS) department, often feels like the doctor in the television series House, who solves medical mysteries each week. Pinto is among about 700 facial pain and oral medicine specialists nationally who patients turn to when their own doctors are unable to identify and treat complex and rare medical conditions. In fact, according to a new study Pinto conducted with input from fellow members of the American Academy of Oral Medicine (AAOM), patients see, on average, 2.2 doctors over 17 months before visiting facial pain and oral medicine specialists, hoping to finally find the cause of their discomfort.

Unfortunately, Pinto said, the delay in getting treatment allows the pain to escalate from acute to the chronic stage, reducing the patient’s quality of life dramatically. Specialists today see more oncology-related oral treatments, from preparation for cancer therapy to management of complications during therapy, than their counterparts 19 years ago, when the last survey of this nature was conducted.

Patients come from as far as the Gulf States to be evaluated and treated by the team of pain specialists at the CWRU dental school—one of just seven inclusive teams nationally and the only one in Ohio with specially trained head and neck radiologists, oral and maxillofacial medicine and orofacial pain clinicians and oral and maxillofacial pathologists all within one clinical setting. Pinto, DMD, MPH, FDS, RCSEd, heads the university’s orofacial pain and oral medicine group, which tackles ailments with such exotic names as, idiopathic persistent facial pain, oral chemosensory disorders and glossodynia. Pinto established the team 14 months ago and the group is now seeing between 50 and 60 patients with complex pain issues each week.

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Fall 2014 Magazine

In this issue:

  • New Dean Kenneth Chance, DDS '79
  • Researchers Link Byproducts of Gum Disease with Oral Cancer Growth
  • Dr. Occhionero Celebrates 50 Years at the School of Dental Medicine
  • And much more!
Download the PDF here

Or peruse PDFs of past issues:

More magazines and departmental newsletters are available in the archive.