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Drs. Mike Hanson (left) and Jodi Fonkert

Willmar Dentists Reflect on Suspending and Re-opening Practice

Like every other dental office across Minnesota, Hanson & Fonkert Dental in Willmar, Minnesota, abruptly closed March 17, 2020 in response to the Governor’s Executive Order suspending all non-emergency oral health care to slow the spread of COVID-19. At the time, Dr. Jodi Fonkert '93 and her husband Dr. Mike Hanson '92 had no idea if the closure would last two weeks, two months or two years.

Drs. Massimo Costalonga and Peter Bittner-Eddy

Two grants to the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research of the National Institutes of Health will support research to identify new approaches to preventing thrush and periodontitis.

Diseases of the mouth are costly and can lead to loss of teeth, a diminished quality of life and life-threatening systemic infections.

All University of Minnesota Dental Clinics reopened Monday, July 6, with enhanced measures in place to limit exposure and potential spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Our staff will contact patients to reschedule appointments that were postponed due to the pandemic.

Emergency care services are available during this time. If you believe you have a dental emergency, please call 612-625-2495.

There will be new check-in and appointment procedures in place for your appointment. These include:

Patient check-in now includes:

Conrado Aparicio, PhD, MScEng

School of Dentistry Professor Conrado Aparicio, PhD, is leading a research team focused on reducing infection rates for patients with bone-integrated prosthetic limbs. As a mechanical engineer with deep experience advancing the science of dental implants, he is the lead investigator on a new $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.

Jackie Callaway-Campbell

Sometimes all it takes are a few encouraging words to alter the trajectory of a young person’s life. For Jackie Callaway-Campbell, it was the words of a manager where she worked as a dental assistant in New Castle, Del.

Uriel Vasquez Rios

Uriel Vasquez Rios is proud of his non-traditional path to dental school. Now entering his second year of the Doctor of Dental Surgery program, he says several unexpected detours helped him to grow and to learn to navigate through challenges.  

“Things did not always turn out as I had planned, and I needed to learn to be tenacious” said Vasquez Rios, 28, who was just elected president of his class for the second consecutive year. “I learned to just focus on the specific challenge in front of me and not get caught up in the lofty goal of becoming a dentist.”

Yazan Alkhatib

Fourth-year class president Yazan Alkhatib graduates from the Doctor of Dental Surgery program this spring. He was asked to share his experiences over the last two months.

Q: How are you adapting to the new pandemic normal?

Allie Deneen

Allie Deneen believes she has been destined for a career in dentistry since fourth grade when she wrote ‘tooth doctor’ in answer to a question about her future. Her mother held onto that school project. Today, Deneen says her fourth-grade fascination with teeth is what drove her to initially look into careers in dentistry. But it is the impact dental hygiene can have on people that has held her interest.

Deneen will graduate in August with a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene.

Mark Herzberg, DDS, PhD

School of Dentistry Professor Mark Herzberg, DDS, PhD, became president of the American Association for Dental Research this spring. The AADR has more than 3,100 members in the United States united by their interest in advancing dental, oral and craniofacial research to improve health.

Herzberg has been active in AADR for more than three decades, serving as chief editor of the organization’s journal, the Journal of Dental Research, for 11 years. 

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