Hello Alumni

Faculty and staff of the School of Dental Medicine would love to meet with you at the beachy Coastal Lounge on May 17, 2018, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. during the North Carolina Dental Society’s 162nd Annual Session in Myrtle Beach, May 17-20. The alumni get together will be a casual meet ‘n greet with faculty, classmates, and colleagues.

If you plan to attend, please contact Jennifer Tripp, School of Dental Medicine Director of Advancement and Alumni Relations, at trippj@ecu.edu or 252-737-7063. Coastal Lounge is off the main lobby of the Embassy Suites Hotel at Kingston Plantation Resort. Thanks to the ECU Medical and Health Sciences Foundation for sponsoring the event. Hope to see you there!

Placing dentists where they can do the most good

Dr. Richard W. Valachovic, D.M.D., M.P.H., president and CEO of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) explores the benefits of creating a dental school committed to educating dentists for practice in rural areas of the state. Will the investment in the ECU School of Dental Medicine pay off for the people of North Carolina? Dr. Valachovic examines the topic in his monthly Charting Progress newsletter at https://adeachartingprogress.wordpress.com/2018/01/16/placing-dentists-where-they-can-do-the-most-good/

ECU School of Dental Medicine’s Dianne Caprio, DDS on HealthWatch

Faculty dentists, students, and residents are helping to improve the health and quality of life of North Carolinians across the state. Dr. Dianne Caprio, faculty director of the school’s Community Service Learning Center in Bolivia, N.C., discusses her center with Amy Myers of Novant Hospital’s Health Watch program. The interview airs daily at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on ATMC TV CH 3 during April 2018.

Faculty present implant workshop during Old North State Dental Society meeting

The School of Dental Medicine hosted the Old North State Dental Society (ONSDS) for its annual spring meeting on Saturday, April 7, 2018 at Ledyard E. Ross Hall. The meeting began with welcoming remarks from Dr. F. Vincent Allison, III, ONSDS president, and Dr. Greg Chadwick, dean of the School of Dental Medicine.

Dr. Isabel Gay, division director of periodontology, and surgical sciences colleagues offered instruction in dental implants for general dentists during a workshop at the dental school.

Dr. Isabel Gay, division director of periodontology, and surgical sciences colleagues offered instruction in dental implants for general dentists during a workshop at the dental school.

The school’s Department of Surgical Sciences Periodontology Division presented a half-day continuing education program entitled “Implant Site Development and Socket Grafting for the General Dentist.” The program reviewed the rationale, biology, evidence and techniques of atraumatic tooth extraction and bone grafting for ridge preservation and improved dental implant outcomes. The program was led by Dr. Isabel Gay, division director, and Dr. Acela Martinez Luna and Dr. Alex Gillone, clinical assistant professors.

Dr. David Paquette, chair of the Department of Surgical Sciences, served as moderator. In the second half of the program, participants were guided through a hands-on simulation of socket grafting. Using dental models, approximately 30 dentists and dental student were instructed in placing bone grafting materials in sockets, sizing and fitting resorbable membranes over site defects, and suturing.

The program awarded ADA CERP (Continuing Education Recognition Program) credit and was sponsored in part by Zimmer BioMet.

Old North State Dental Society president Dr. F. Vincent Allison, III (at left) thanked Dr. Acela Martinez Luna, Dr. Isabel Gay, Dr. Alex Gillone, and Dr. David Paquette for their participation in the workshop.

Old North State Dental Society president Dr. F. Vincent Allison, III (at left) thanked Dr. Acela Martinez Luna, Dr. Isabel Gay, Dr. Alex Gillone, and Dr. David Paquette for their participation in the workshop.

Students present at national research forum

Students Luke Current, Kayla Strickland, James Parker Jr., Danish Hasan, and Tashana Detwiler, presented original research at this year’s annual American Association of Dental Research (AADR) meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, March 21-24.

Dr. Ramiro Murata, James Parker, Jr., and Danish Hasan

Dr. Ramiro Murata, James Parker, Jr., and Danish Hasan

The AADR advances research and assists in the spread of research findings through national conferences among leading researchers. The meeting is a platform for students world-wide to exhibit their findings on posters, network, collaborate, and discover.

Third-year dental student Luke Current presented “Influence of Physical Activity During Pregnancy and Child Oral Health.” He also participated in the Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research and its Application (SCADA), which invites one dental student from each U.S. dental school to present.

With the aid of ECU faculty mentors Dr. Christopher Cotterill, division director of pediatric dentistry, and Dr. Linda May, assistant professor of anatomy, Luke’s study asserts positive physiological link between women exercising during pregnancy and child dental maturity.

Luke Current

Luke Current

Luke hopes to continue his research while at ECU and during residency after graduation. “We plan to continue our project by expanding the numbers of participants and also looking at some different variables. The nice thing about my project is it’s centered around a pediatric population, and that’s where I want to specialize in dentistry.”

First-year dental student Kayla Strickland studied “Geofencing: Mobile Technology as a Health Promotion Tool to Raise Awareness of a Dental Clinic in Rural North Carolina,” with Dr. Wanda Wright, division director of dental public health. Kayla found that geofencing, a technology that defines a virtual boundary, has the ability to increase awareness of health care services in order to encourage more patients to receive care.

Kayla would also like to continue her research well into the future. Her current research includes the school’s community service learning center in Robinson County, North Carolina. “I think it would be fun to do the research at the other seven community service learning centers aross the state,” she said.

Kayla Strickland

Kayla Strickland

James Parker Jr., also a first-year dental student, presented “Antifungal Activity of Capric Acid Against Candida Albicans in Vitro,” his study with research mentor Dr. Ramiro Murata, assistant professor of foundational sciences.

While James would like to continue his research, and has plans to compete at a conference next year in Vancouver, he doesn’t yet know which direction his research will take. “I know Dr. Murata has further plans for the study. He would like to do a live study as well, just to see how the capric acid works. But I’m just getting into the research now, so all this is still new to me.”

First-year dental student Tashana Detwiler presented “Elevated Blood Pressure Among Emergency Dental Patients: A Descriptive Study.” Tashana’s research mentor, Dr. Kimberley Gise, directs the school’s Emergency Clinic.

Danish Hasan, an ECU undergraduate biology major, presented “Antifungal Properties of Berberine on Various Species of Candida in Vitro.” Danish is also mentored by Dr. Ramiro Murata.

“The [AADR] meeting was just so exciting that I would love to go to another meeting, so if I don’t continue with my current project, I would love to look into other research projects,” said Tashana.

Tashana Detwiler

Tashana Detwiler

James Parker said the meeting was a great opportunity to broaden his horizon and “to see all the different studies that are being done, and just talking with people and seeing how they think and just understanding the basis of it and how much there is to know and learn as I continue in dentistry.”

Luke Current added, “I think the coolest thing is that this conference has a significant student presence, and it’s just great to meet future collaborators you can work with from all over the place.”

Dr. Sharon Gordon, the school’s associate dean for research, summed up the conference by saying, “The ECU School of Dental Medicine is growing its national research footprint as evidenced by the largest number of students to date presenting research. The school’s leadership is to be commended for supporting the research interests of tomorrow’s dentists.”

Story by Christine Evangelista

Schweitzer Fellows bring oral health education to Pitt County Schools

Two students in the School of Dental Medicine set out on a journey to educate young students about oral health care—but they learned lessons of their own along the way.

Kevin Holley and Trevor Staton, 2017-2018 North Carolina Albert Schweitzer Fellows, partnered to take the reins of a previous Schweitzer project that aimed to providing preventive oral health education to school children. Three years ago, two dental students worked with the Greene Access Program (GAP), part of Greene County Health Care, to deliver oral health lessons to more than 1,200 elementary school children in Greene County. The fellows helped enroll the children in GAP clinical services, where they received care such as dental sealants to reduce tooth decay.

Dental students and Schweitzer Fellows Kevin Holley, left, and Trevor Staton will deliver oral health education to elementary students in Pitt County. (photo by Cliff Hollis)

“I think where we were at the beginning of our project and where we are now are very different, in positive ways,” Holley said.

Holley and Staton worked to expand the GAP participation at Eastern and Wahl-Coates elementary schools; Stokes, Chicod, and G. R. Whitfield schools, and Sadie Saulter Pre-Kindergarten Center. The schools were selected through public health data. The program focused on kindergarten through fifth-grade students. In addition to the oral health lessons and GAP enrollment, the current fellows assisted in a referral program to help children and their families find dental homes—dentist offices that can accommodate their unique and long-term care needs.

Staton and Holley will wrap up their efforts in April, when two new dental Schweitzer Fellows will build on their project, adding their own unique strategies and ideas as they move forward.

“Knowing that our project will have a lasting impact on the kids we worked with has inspired me to continue this kind of early intervention throughout my career,” Staton said. “I appreciate the students’ willingness to learn and I enjoyed getting out into the community.”

Holley and Staton used trial and error to figure out which strategies worked best for bringing oral health lessons into classrooms. They created lesson plans, set up communication lines and anticipate obstacles for getting their message to the target audience. Both Holley and Staton are married to local teachers, so they understood that they would need to meet students from all walks of life and with varying degrees of knowledge on oral health and individual dental care.

“The kids always ask great questions,” Holley said. “We try to show them that oral care is associated with different types of outcomes, so they have to take care of themselves. One of the lessons we try to emphasize is for the students to tell one person at home about one thing they learned from us.”

As a Pitt County native, Holley said having that kind of impact on local students means a lot as he pursues a career in the health-care field.

“As an individual that’s now in this career field, you look around and say, ‘What can I do?’” he said.

Staton said he was amazed at the insightful questions that the children asked, showing that they were processing what they learned.

“The range of background knowledge about oral hygiene and dentistry varied throughout each classroom, and this was made evident through the students’ questioning,” Staton said. “I was glad to help answer their questions and satisfy their curiosities.”

Holley and Staton were two of five students to earn Schweitzer Fellowships from the School of Dental Medicine in 2017. They joined five others from the Brody School of Medicine, making ECU’s contingent nearly half of North Carolina’s total class, which was made up of 23 students from ECU; Duke, Wake Forest and North Carolina Central universities; and the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.

While working with community-based organizations to spur needed change in their chosen areas, Schweitzer Fellows also underwent leadership development training to instill in them the importance of improving life for people who experience barriers to care or other life necessities.

“As Dr. Albert Schweitzer said, ‘I have always held firmly to the thought that each one of us can do a little to bring some portion of misery to an end,’” Staton said. “It is my hope this project has helped in some way to do just that and I will continue to pursue such endeavors in my future.”

Since 1994, the North Carolina Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Program has supported 425 fellows from a variety of academic disciplines through funding from numerous foundations, academic institutions and individual donors. The North Carolina class joins nearly 240 other students nationwide.

Skyler Lagcher is appointed to the American Student Dental Association’s Council on Advocacy

Skyler Lagcher, a first-year student at the ECU School of Dental Medicine, has been appointed legislative coordinator for Districts 4 and 5 of the American Student Dental Association’s Council on Advocacy. The appointed was made by the Association’s Board of Trustees for the academic year 2018-2019.

The American Student Dental Association’s Council on Advocacy represents the interests of dental students on legislative and regulatory issues concerning the dental profession.

As legislative coordinator for Districts 4 and 5, Ms. Lagcher will represent 14 dental schools within the states of Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. She will help lead the American Dental Association’s Dentist and Dental Student Lobby Day 2019 and work to shape the legislative direction of the American Student Dental Association by reviewing and analyzing bills affecting future dentists.

Skyler Lagcher

“I am delighted to serve ECU and the dental schools of the South and Southeast on ASDA’s Council on Advocacy. In this role, I hope to promote the understanding of dental-related legislation and the awareness of professional issues among colleagues and future dentists. I feel strongly about involvement in organized dentistry to frame the future of our dental profession. Many of these efforts are achieved through advocacy, and I am honored to assist in shaping our professional future,” said Lagcher.

“Skyler was an impressive applicant for dental school, and she has continued to impress us as a dental student. Rarely do we see a first-year student so heavily involved in professional leadership and service activities. We are proud of Skyler – as we are of all of our students,” said Dr. Margaret Wilson, vice dean of the ECU School of Dental Medicine.

Originally from Pinetown, N.C., in Beaufort County, Ms. Lagcher completed an associate of applied science in dental hygiene from Wayne Community College and a bachelor of science in dental hygiene from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was employed as a dental hygienist for a private dental practice in Cary, N.C., prior to enrolling in dental school.

Besides membership in the American Student Dental Association, Ms. Lagcher is a student member of the American Academy of Oral Medicine, Academy of General Dentistry, and American Dental Education Association. She currently serves as the professional development chair of ECU’s chapter of the American Student Dental Association, and she holds other committee assignments.

Dr. Nikki Tucker receives scholarship to Institute for Teaching and Learning

Nikki Tucker, DDS, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, has been selected to receive a 2018 American Dental Education Association/Academy of Academic Leadership (ADEA/AAL) Faculty of Color Tuition Scholarship for Professional Development through the Institute for Teaching and Learning (ITL).

The scholarship supports professional development activities for faculty of color in dental and allied dental education who are in the early stages of their careers. The ADEA/AAL ITL provides six days of intensive onsite learning, discussions and networking with faculty from the United States, Canada and abroad.

Dr. Tucker will be recognized for the scholarship at the 2018 American Dental Education Association Annual Session & Exhibition in Orlando, Florida, on March 19, 2018. She will attend the ADEA/AAL Institute for Teaching and Learning in 2018.

“I am very honored to receive the scholarship and look forward to attending the Institute. I look forward to gaining new information to enhance my skills as an educator at ECU School of Dental Medicine,” said Dr. Tucker.

Dr. Tucker joined the ECU School of Dental Medicine in June of 2017. Prior to ECU, she served as an associate at private dental practices in High Point, Burlington, and Greensboro/Winston-Salem, N.C. She earned a DDS from Howard University College of Dentistry.

The ADEA/AAL Institute for Teaching and Learning curriculum offers these topics:

  • Shaping a teaching philosophy
  • Instructional course design
  • Effective clinical teaching strategies
  • Working effectively with students facing challenges
  • Motivational interviews in the clinic/community
  • Case-based learning and problem-based learning
  • Enhancing learning environments to maximize student motivation
  • Linking assessments with student learning.
  • Developing rubrics
  • Assessing student learning outcomes
  • Academic integrity and ethics
  • Teaching and feedback styles
  • Calibrating skill-based performance

FROM SERGEANT TO STUDENT – Police officer studying to become a dentist

Being a police officer and a dentist are more similar than one might think. That’s what former Sgt. Rudy Oxendine is realizing as a first-year dental student.

“It’s all about perspective,” said Dr. Todd Watkins, assistant dean for dental education and informatics at the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine. “He already has the background in service and as a result, dental service is just a different type of service than what than what he’s already been accustomed to. So I just see it as an extension of his regular personality.”

Dr. Linc Conn (right) inspects the work of first-year dental student Rudy Oxendine. Oxendine is a former Greenville police officer. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

Last summer, Oxendine was the sergeant of the center city unit of the Greenville Police Department. Today he is a first-year dental student.

“I made the decision (dental school) because, do you want to live your whole life wondering, ‘What if?’ I didn’t want to wonder,” Oxendine said.

Oxendine joined GPD in 2003. He earned the rank of sergeant, served on the SWAT Team for 11 years and continues to work as a reserve officer. He had the chance to climb the police department ladder after successfully completing a promotional process that could have potentially led him to the rank of lieutenant. But instead, he removed himself from the eligibility list to remain on the center city unit where he felt he was making a difference.

“I really, really enjoyed my position. I liked what I was doing. I loved who I worked with. I enjoy this entire area (downtown Greenville) and seeing it progress,” Oxendine said.

While many people wouldn’t pass up an opportunity for promotion, those who know Oxendine understand it – especially the officers who were under his command.

Oxendine was with the Greenville Police Department for 13 years before going to dental school. (Photo by Jay Clark)

Oxendine was with the Greenville Police Department for 13 years before going to dental school. (Photo by Jay Clark)
“He helped me become a better police officer,” said GPD officer Sam Paldino. “He would just go out of his way. It didn’t matter if it was his day off or if he had other things to do, he would always go above and beyond. He really wanted to help people build their career. He would always challenge me. He would ask me, ‘What do you want to do in the future and how are you going to do that? I want to help you get there.’”

And it wasn’t just Oxendine’s fellow officers that he served. Those living and working in the center city district had easy access.

“He’s been wonderful. You go out there and call any time of the night – call his phone and he’s right there to help you,” said Shawn Grazier, manager of Crave Restaurant. “There are huge shoes to fill. Rudy’s built up the reputation and the relationships with everybody downtown.”

Why a dentist?

Oxendine said the seed to become a dentist was planted years ago. He grew up in a poor area of Robeson County. He said he needed a lot of dental attention but he wasn’t able to access care for much of his childhood.

“The need exists there just like it exists all over eastern North Carolina,” Oxendine said. “It’s just something that I knew I wanted to do because it’s a great way to help and it’s a great opportunity for me to give back. I’m hoping that if I can continue on my current pace I’ll have that opportunity someday.”

Oxendine, 39, is married and a father of a 6-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son. He said back when he was the typical college age, he wasn’t mature enough nor did he have the discipline to do what was needed to become a dentist. But then he went through basic law enforcement training.

“You’re going to learn discipline or you’re going to fail out. If you have the mindset that you’re not going to fail, you will become more disciplined,” Oxendine said. “I think that’s what the police department did for me.”

While an officer, Oxendine went to ECU and got a degree in chemistry in 2009. He then took some prerequisites so he could eventually apply to the School of Dental Medicine. He started his new journey in August.

“You walk in here knowing that it is going to be difficult and you don’t know what to expect,” Oxendine said. “I had a good semester; I’m pleased with my performance. I have a lot to learn.”

Oxendine works in the simulation lab on the mannequin he has named Santiago. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

These days, instead of walking the beat downtown, you’ll see Oxendine walking from the lecture hall to the simulation lab in Ross Hall on ECU’s Health Sciences campus. Instead of Oxendine working with the latest law enforcement equipment at the range, he’s working with his restorative kit, fixing cavities and other defects in the mouth of a mannequin he’s affectionately named Santiago.

“Each week you’re learning something new – you’re having to apply it – and no matter how good you were the previous week, you’re going to have a new thing to learn, a new hardship that you’re going to have to overcome,” Oxendine said.

Watkins said Oxendine’s current dental education is essentially like he’s on training wheels, but not for long. “Next, we will take the training wheels off and he will have to work in our clinics while we watch him. And then he’s going to be doing real live patient care in our service learning centers.”

Extended family

Oxendine’s transition from officer to future dentist has him working closely with a new set of peers, which seems to be extending his family.

“All of my closest friends were obviously related to (GPD). You miss the people – they’re your friends, they’re your family, you’ve gone through a lot of traumatic things together which creates a bond. That’s probably the most difficult part – not seeing your friends every day,” Oxendine said. “However, I’m growing close to a lot of people at the dental school. So I’m really pleased that I found some great friends over here.”

His former colleagues say ECU is gaining a student who leads by example.

“As for GPD, I don’t think they’re going to be able to replace him, he’s just one of a kind. He was a great supervisor, he’s a great leader. People just love being around him, people love working with him,” Paldino said. “As for ECU, I think they’re definitely in for a treat. He’s just extremely motivated and he’s going to really have an impact over there.

For more information on the ECU School of Dental Medicine, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-dhs/dental/.



Dr. Loren Alves receives BB&T Active Learning and Leadership Grant

Loren Alves, DMD, DABPD, FAAPD, clinical associate professor in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, has been selected to participate in ECU’s BB&T Active Learning and Leadership Incentive Grant Program for spring 2018.

The program provides incentive grants of $1,000 for faculty from ECU colleges and schools to study the relationship between active learning and the development of leadership capacity abilities. The program is based on the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s book Leadership Reconsidered: Engaging Higher Education in Social Change, which examines the role of higher education in creating leaders for a diverse and democratic society.

The purpose of the grant program is to explore the relationship between active learning and the development of leadership abilities as described in Leadership Reconsidered through one or more of the abilities of transformative leadership: collaboration, shared purpose, disagreement with respect, division of labor, learning environment, self-knowledge, authenticity/integrity, commitment, empathy/understanding, and competency.

Dr. Alves is currently teaching “Local Anesthesia for the Pediatric Dental Patient,” a required didactic and hands-on simulation based course designed for second year dental students. Within the course, students practice interactive anesthetic techniques to achieve competence of these skills in treating pediatric patients.

Dr. Loren Alves, clinical associate professor of pediatric dentistry, has been selected to participate in the university’s BB&T Active Learning and Leadership Incentive Grant Program.

Dr. Loren Alves, clinical associate professor of pediatric dentistry, has been selected to participate in the university’s BB&T Active Learning and Leadership Incentive Grant Program.

Dr. Alves has redesigned the course to introduce the use of a dental typodont (simulated plastic upper and lower dental arch) containing electronic sensors and alarms that simulate locations of anatomic nerve injection sites. An acoustic signal indicates the successful position for achieving the desired anesthetic region when the syringe needle contacts the sensor.

“Changing the course design to incorporate this new active simulation will further students’ understanding of the techniques of pediatric anesthesia administration and will be a valuable tool in helping them make connections between the classroom and clinical instruction,” said Dr. Alves.

The course will consist of three main active learning components: 1) simulation of local anesthesia administration to pediatric dental patients using an anatomically correct pediatric dental model (typodont); 2) self-assessment with feedback and discussion; and 3) reflection with development of a plan for improvement.

Dr. Alves and other grantees are asked to keep a detailed journal on the students’ growth in learning and leadership capabilities, videotape a class meeting to review for leadership abilities developed and future opportunities, and write a final reflection on project’s learning opportunities for the students and faculty member. Students will complete surveys at the beginning and end of the course.

“The active learning exercise using the dental typodont will set up an environment for transformative leadership as discussed in Leadership Reconsidered,” said Dr. Alves. “The students’ self-assessments and my observations will give us a good idea about the extent of learning and leadership development taking place and about potential opportunities.”

The BB&T Active Learning and Leadership Incentive Grant Program is managed by the ECU Office for Faculty Excellence for the BB&T Center for Leadership Development. The program provides up to 15 grants for ECU faculty each year.

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