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Symposium to examine dentistry’s post-pandemic future

Dentistry has made dramatic strides in the last generation, thanks to advances in materials and technology. More change is certain to come, but the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the form this change will take.

Dr. Linda LeResche
Dr. Linda LeResche, Professor Emeritus, Oral Medicine

Four panels of prominent figures in dentistry met in May to discuss related issues surrounding the future of dentistry. On June 19 and 26, representatives of these panels will summarize their discussions at the 2021 Arcora Foundation Distinguished Professor in Dentistry Symposium, which will consist of interactive webinars. With a theme of “The Changing Face of Dentistry,” the symposium and earlier panel discussions were organized by Dr. Linda LeResche, the Arcora Foundation Distinguished Professor at the University of Washington School of Dentistry.

Topics for the May discussions included:

  • Teledentistry/telehealth
  • Medication management of the oral microbiome for oral and systemic health
  • Salivary diagnostics
  • Digital dentistry and automation
  • Vaccination as a routine part of dental practice
  • Machine learning, data science, and the electronic health record
  • Oral health in marginalized groups
  • Our aging population
  • Changes in where dentists practice – private practice, corporate dentistry, etc.
  • Integration of dental and medical practice
  • Changing responsibilities within the dental team

On June 19 and 26, after each panel’s representative presents their findings, each session will break up into discussion groups where dental practitioners can talk about what has been presented and hear from the panelists. At the end of the session, the webinar group will reconvene for a brief discussion of what was covered.

Dr. LeResche is reviewing all the data from each panel meeting and creating a table of most important trends, what is driving them, evidence for them, and how dentistry should respond. Each panel will write a paper on their findings, and Dr. LeResche will summarize the panels’ work in a paper for the Journal of Dental Research: Clinical and Translational Research.

Panel themes and members are:

Innovations and new technologies

  • Wenyuan Shi, PhD, President, CEO & Chief Scientific Officer, The Forsyth Institute
  • Laurie McCauley, DDS, MS, PhD, Dean, School of Dentistry, University of Michigan
  • Michelle Robinson, DMD, MA, Executive Associate Dean, School of Dentistry, University of Alabama
  • Alexandre Dasilva, DDS, DMedSc, Associate Professor, University of Michigan

Scope of practice and interaction with other health professions

  • Christian Stohler, DMD, Dean, College of Dental Medicine, Columbia University
  • Sara Gordon, DDS, MS, Professor & Associate Dean, University of Washington
  • Christine Riedy Murphy, MA, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor & Chair, Harvard School of Dental Medicine
  • Marko Vujicic, PhD, Chief Economist & Vice President, American Dental Association

Demographics and access to care

  • Judith Albino, PhD, President Emerita & Professor, University of Colorado
  • Christopher Okunseri, BDS, MSc, MLS, DDPHRCSE, FFDRCSI, Professor, Marquette University
  • Jocelyne Feine, DDS, MS, HDR, FITI, FCAHS, Professor, McGill University
  • Marita Inglehart, Dr. Phil. Habil., Professor, University of Michigan

Practice structure and organization

  • Kathryn Atchison, DDS, MPH, Professor, UCLA
  • Richard Valachovic, DMD, MPH, Professor, New York University
  • Jeffrey Fellows, PhD, Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research
  • Ron E. Inge, DDS, Chief Dental Officer, COO, VP of Professional Services, Delta Dental of Missouri

Dr. LeResche is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Oral Medicine at the UW School of Dentistry. Before retiring, she was Professor of Oral Medicine, Adjunct Professor of Oral Health Sciences and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty at the school, as well as Affiliate Investigator at the Kaiser-Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. She holds a doctoral degree in comparative behavior from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in mental disorder epidemiology there.

She conducted pain research at UW for over 30 years and played a key role in developing research diagnostic criteria for temporomandibular disorders (TMD). She also studied the epidemiology of TMD and other pain problems in adults and adolescents, with a focus on gender differences in chronic pain and the role of hormonal factors in TMD. Her more recent research assessed the effectiveness of opioids for chronic pain in older adults.

From 1991-2010, she directed the School of Dentistry’s summer research fellowship program, funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), a division of the National Institutes of Health. She received the American Association for Dental Research’s inaugural Mentor of the Year Award in 1998. From 2007-2011 she held an NIDCR grant to enhance the school’s teaching of evidence-based dentistry. She currently co-directs the multidisciplinary pre-doctoral translational research training program of the Institute of Translational Health Sciences, the UW’s chapter of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards program. In 2020, she was named Distinguished Senior Scientist of the International Association for Dental Research’s Neuroscience Group.