Oct 122012
 

Ross Hall, home of the School of Dental Medicine at ECU. Photo by Cliff Hollis, ECU News Services.

Today, East Carolina University’s School of Dental Medicine will roll out the welcome mat to the new Ledyard E. Ross Hall at a dedication ceremony on the health sciences campus. Students, faculty, staff and the public will celebrate and tour the 188,000-square-foot school beginning at 2 p.m.

The state-of-the-art facility is named for its benefactor and retired Greenville orthodontist Dr. Ledyard E. Ross, class of ’51. It includes 133 operatories, large “smart classroom” learning halls, faculty offices, seminar rooms and a simulation suite, where dental students can practice and perfect hand-skills.

The school welcomed its inaugural class of 52 pre-doctoral students in August 2011 and its second class of 52 students just two months ago. Until now, dental students have been sharing learning space at the Brody Medical Sciences Building.

While students and faculty are thrilled to move into their new home, Ross Hall serves a dual purpose. In addition to educating students, there are plans to provide reduced-fee dental care for low-income patients. The facility will house specialty suites, including pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, special needs and a clinical research area.

The dental school is dedicated to preparing world-class dentists committed to serving the needs of vulnerable North Carolinians. North Carolina averages three dentists per 10,000 people; this is half the national ratio.

In June, the school opened the first of 10 planned community service learning centers to reach rural, underserved populations. Residents and a supervising dentist are already caring for patients at the Ahoskie center.

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Aug 172012
 

In celebration of the ECU School of Dental Medicine’s soon-to-be-opened Ross Hall, Laupus Library will host an exhibit on the history of dental medicine as told through the stories of two rural dentists looking to preserve a piece of history.

One practiced dentistry until age 92. The other established the first dental practice in Kitty Hawk.

Elevating Practices: The Lifework of Two Rural Dentists” is a unique display of dental medicine artifacts available for viewing on the 4th floor of Laupus Library beginning August 15.

The exhibit tells a story that ECU’s future dental graduates hope to perpetuate with their own careers: Dentistry is not just about fixing teeth; it’s an opportunity to improve overall health for rural and underserved patients across the state.

The historic dental instruments, supplies and equipment on display were originally owned and used by Samuel B. Milford, DDS (1864-1956) in his practice in Poolesville, Maryland. An active dentist until the very end of his life, he extracted three teeth for a Poolesville resident just three weeks before his death on June 10, 1956 at the age of 92.

Dr. Roger W.R. Sears, DDS of Moyock, NC purchased Dr. Milford’s collection of dental items in the 1950s and displayed them at his dental practice in Kitty Hawk – the town’s very first dental practice – until he retired in 2007. In 2011, Dr. Sears gave his collection of dental artifacts to The Country Doctor Museum.

The doctors’ tools – now artifacts – show us just how far dental technology has progressed in the past century. But while the tools have changed, the need remains for dedicated community dentists similar to Drs. Milford and Sears.

Among the items to be exhibited are Dr. Milford’s examination chair (ca. 1900), dental cabinet and various dental instruments. The artifacts have been temporarily housed at Laupus Library for identification and conservation. ECU graduate students Whitney Petrey and Emily Powell have worked to organize, document and conserve the Sears dentistry collection.

For additional information on this exhibit, go to www.ecu.edu/laupuslibrary/events/exhibit.cfm.  For additional information on the items in the Sears collection, visit the Digital Collections at East Carolina University http://digital.lib.ecu.edu.

–Dr. Dorothy A. Spencer, Director of Laupus Library