School of Dentistry Points of Pride

Points of Pride - Transformative Initiatives 1998-2013

School of Dentistry 125th Anniversary
Student District Dental Society

In September 1995, School of Dentistry doctor of dental surgery students became the first in the nation to become members, through the Minnesota Chapter of the American Student Dental Association (MN ASDA), of their state professional association. Dental students who are part of the Minnesota ASDA Chapter comprise the 8th district dental society of the Minnesota Dental Association (MDA). Students participate on association committees and its Board of Trustees, and have voting privileges at the MDA House of Delegates.

Minnesota Craniofacial Research Training (MinnCResT) Program

Funded in 2002 with a major grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the MinnCResT Program is the University of Minnesota’s largest NIH training grant, educating the next generation of independent investigators exploring questions in craniofacial, dental and oral health research. Working in cross disciplinary teams––with mentors and fellows in such fields as biology, neuroscience, microbiology, genetics, immunology, engineering, dentistry and medicine––training fellows begin, continue or expand their research careers and pursue novel research endeavors that are fundamental to biology and human health, and applied to expand the frontiers and scope of dental, craniofacial and oral health.

Simulation Clinic

Three decades after dentistry’s move into Moos Tower, the building received its first appreciable facelift. In 2005, the school launched an $11.2 million capital campaign to fund the transformation of its outdated preclinical teaching labs into the most technically advanced patient simulation facility in the Big Ten. Designed for students raised in the digital age, the new clinic now features 108 patient simulator stations equipped with realistic operatory equipment, 20 advanced simulation stations with virtual reality-based technology for self-directed learning, plus two conference rooms and lab space. Here first- and second-year students hone their operative skills, learning eye-hand coordination, operator and patient positioning, and manual dexterity skills on the best practice patients available. Eighty-six percent of the school’s full-time teaching faculty were donors to the project. The clinic opened in 2007.

Give Kids a Smile Day (GKAS)

The school held its first Give Kids a Smile Day as a pilot project in 2005. One year later, some 190 volunteers provided free dental care to 215 children in the school’s on-campus clinic. By 2013, the (now) annual student-organized GKAS Day attracted 330 student, staff, and faculty, plus community volunteers who provided $111,000 of free dental care to 178 children.

Program for Advanced Standing Students

In response to a request by the Minnesota Board of Dentistry, the school developed the Program for Advanced Standing Students (PASS) to prepare non-Canadian internationally educated dentists to practice dentistry in the United States. Successful completion of the 2+ year program leads to a doctor of dental surgery degree, allowing successful graduates to sit for licensure examinations. The program began in 2006 and has accepted 68 students from 23 different countries.

UMP Dental Clinic

The school partnered with University of Minnesota Physicians and University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview to build and staff a unique new clinic that provides vital dental treatment to well patients and those whose underlying medical condition may add complexity to the management of their oral health. The clinic also serves patients who need additional care due to physical or developmental disabilities, dental phobias and anxiety. The clinic is home to the medical center’s General Practice Residency Program; School of Dentistry faculty provide academic direction and supervise patient care. The clinic opened in May 2009.

Non Patient-based Licensure Exam

Prompted, in part, by faculty concerns about licensure examinations that require procedures be performed on live patients, the school worked with the Minnesota Board of Dentistry to advance new standards for initial licensure of its graduates to practice dentistry in Minnesota. The school provided the board access to all information about processes in-place to ensure that a quality group of students is admitted, a current and validated education is offered, and that graduated students are well prepared to practice dentistry. Assured of the clinical competence of U-M graduates whose evaluation is ongoing throughout their four years of dental education, the Board voted to accept the National Dental Examining Board (NDEB) of Canada’s written and case-based exam for testing the clinical competence of U-M doctor of dental surgery graduates applying for initial licensure to practice dentistry in the state. The NDEB exam was first offered at the school in March 2010.

Master of Dental Hygiene Program

A new Master of Dental Hygiene Program accepted its first class of eight students in 2008. The program draws upon the research-intensive environment of the University’s Academic Health Center and its Carlson School of Management to offer a portfolio of educational experiences designed to prepare dental hygienists for leadership positions within the healthcare industry, in a research environment, or in dental hygiene education. Students may pursue one of two curriculum tracks: management/business and dental hygiene education. In 2013, the program was renamed Master of Science in Dental Hygiene.

Dental Therapy Program

In 2008, Minnesota became the first state in the U.S to authorize licensure of dental therapists (no sooner than 2011) and, in 2009, the School of Dentistry became the first U.S. dental school to educate dental therapists. The inaugural class of nine dental therapy students graduated in December 2011.

University of Minnesota Pediatric Dental Clinic Made Possible by Delta Dental of Minnesota

With a $3.5 million lead gift from Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation and additional donor support, the school funded and built the state’s most advanced dental clinic for children that is home to the University of Minnesota Advanced Education Program in Pediatric Dentistry. Here, dental residents learn in an interprofessional environment and provide comprehensive dental care for children and adolescents, including well and medically compromised patients, and those who need additional care due to physical or developmental disabilities. The 14-chair, state-of-the-art clinic is fully integrated with the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. The clinic opened in April 2012.

An Award So Nice, We Received It Twice

In 2010, the School of Dentistry received the prestigious William J. Gies Award for Vision from the American Dental Education Association Gies Foundation. The award was given in recognition of the school’srole in advancing new licensure standards that allowed for a non patient-based examination to test the competency of School of Dentistry graduates applying for initial licensure to practice dentistry in Minnesota. A second Gies Award in 2013 recognized the school’s 30-year partnership between the Minnesota Dental Research Center for Biomechanics and Biomaterials and 3M to develop and test new dental materials.

Outreach Program

Starting in the mid-1990s and for almost a decade, students traversed the state––with portable equipment loaded into the back of a University van––to treat the children of Minnesota’s migrant farm workers and public program patients in Greater Minnesota. More recently, the school worked with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System (MnSCU) to open the Hibbing Community College Dental Clinic and began sending students to treat area patients in 2002. Also in 2002, a partnership with UCare Minnesota turned a 37-foot Winnebago into a three-chair dental office-on-wheels, staffed by students who care for UCare patients in 50+ underserved communities. In 2005, Outreach became a graduation requirement. That same year, the school partnered with Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, Minn., to fundraise, build and staff a state-of-the-art, hospital-based dental clinic. Opened in December 2007, the clinic now serves patients in 17 counties.

Today, all students spend six to eleven weeks treating patients under faculty supervision in one or more of 12 off-campus clinics located in underserved communities throughout the region. In 2012, there were 38,900 patient-visits to School of Dentistry outreach sites; nearly 90% of patients treated were uninsured or public program patients. For students, the service-learning experience builds cultural and clinical competence, and a broad understanding of the professional and social responsibilities they will have as dental professionals. Many credit their dental school outreach experience treating a diverse patient population with a variety of oral health needs as a significant influence in their choice to practice in underserved communities after graduation.

In 2013, Minnesota outreach sites include: The Hibbing Community College Dental Clinic, UCare Mobile Dental Clinic, Rice Regional Dental Clinic (in Willmar), the Native American Community Clinic Dental Clinic and the Community University Health Care Clinic (both in South Minneapolis), plus tribal and Indian Health Service clinics in Ogema, Cloquet, Red Lake and Cass Lake. Outreach rotations also exist in Howard, S.D., and at IHS/tribal clinics in Belcourt, N.D. and Wolf Point, Mont. All Outreach sites were developed in partnership with public and area stakeholder groups.

For more on the School of Dentistry's 125th Anniversary

October 2013 marks the 125th anniversary of the founding of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. In this article, we look back over a remarkable history and share just some of the entertaining milestones and dramatic changes of those years.


Take a look back at the achievements and successes of the School of Dentistry throughout its 125-year history.


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  • Last modified on January 7, 2014