Inside UK’s College of Dentistry
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Inside UK’s College of Dentistry


AMY JONES-TIMONEY: Hi, I’m Amy Jones-Timoney
from the University of Kentucky, and today we’re at the College of Dentistry with interim
Dean of the college, Dr. Jeff Okeson. Thank you so much for being with us today. JEFF OKESON: Thank you, thank you. AMY JONES-TIMONEY: As we start our campus
walk here, tell me a little bit about why the profession of dentistry is so unique. JEFF OKESON: It’s unique, and I think, it’s
kind of special. We help a lot of patients in an intimate way. It is listed has one of
the highest professions in the US News and World Report almost consistently. I think
that’s got something to do with the fact that they are– that dentists can do the things
they’d like to do. There’s a good work-family kind of an option for them and so it offers
a lot of options for them. AMY JONES-TIMONEY: Tell me a little bit about
your students and why they’re picking the UK College of Dentistry. JEFF OKESON: We have some excellent students.
We have students who come here after their Bachelors, getting about a 3.6-point average.
But they’re here, I think, for lots of reasons, some of which have got to do with our college
size. We have just about 65 students per class. That’s relatively small to most dental schools.
We have a faculty base that gives them a good faculty-student ratio, which means we really
can care for those people like that. And I think it gives them an opportunity to see
things like, we have digital dentistry here. We have something that’s really unique. We’re
probably leading the country in digital dentistry. Digital dentistry is the ways dentistry has
changed to making crowns and things like that where we’re now taking pictures and putting
pictures into computers and those computers then produce the crowns and we go right back
to patients. And we’re leading the country in that. We have like 44 different scanners
that are here, and our students are learning how to do that so when they leave here, they
can move into this digital dentistry, or they can go into traditional industry. So we have
to teach both those things, which is kind of interesting. AMY JONES-TIMONEY: Well let’s head upstairs
now, and take a look at one of the spaces where a lot of this education and training
is taking place. JEFF OKESON: Absolutely. Sounds good. AMY JONES-TIMONEY: We’ve made it up to the
sixth-floor Simulation Lab in the College of Dentistry, and I know that hands-on training
is really important for your students. Tell me a little bit about the experiences that
they get in hands-on training here. JEFF OKESON: Well, dentistry is unique, because
we have to give them all the biology and the neurology and all that stuff, but we also
have to pack into that how you be a dentist, and that’s a technical thing. So we have a
simulation laboratory here where our students can come by and they can look at artificial
teeth in an artificial mouth that’s set up the way they would see it in the clinic. And
we can teach them how to prepare teeth, how to prepare crowns, do the things that they’re
going to have to do in a practice like that. So we have to– we have a very busy four years,
because we’ve got to teach them how to do that as well as why they’re doing it and all
the other aspects. So it’s a busy year, and they are able to come up here and spend some
time looking– getting things done. It’s probably– I think it’s one of the busiest
curriculum we have in the university, because we have to package all the biology together,
the anatomy together, and then give them time to learn how to do that, which means we keep
them busy almost every day all day kind of stuff like that. So it’s a very busy curriculum.
It’s a challenging curriculum, but it’s a rewarding curriculum, because they get opportunities
to help individuals with not only dental disease, but understand how the whole health of the
body is related to the oral cavity, and then able to change people’s lives, smile, make
them happy, get them to chew better, things like that. So all that is part of dentistry. AMY JONES-TIMONEY: It’s really cool that they
get to actually do that while they’re students. JEFF OKESON: Yes, while they’re students.
And once they master the skills in the simulator laboratory, then we take them down to the
clinic where they’ll actually be doing that with patients. AMY JONES-TIMONEY: Well, that’s a great segue,
because we’re going to head down to the clinic– JEFF OKESON: Let’s get on down there. AMY JONES-TIMONEY: –and check out that space. JEFF OKESON: Great. AMY JONES-TIMONEY: So we’ve made our way down
to the second floor. Tell me about where we are, and some of the updates that have been
done recently to clinics like this. JEFF OKESON: We have two clinic floors for
our students. There are about 70 cubicles here. They were renovated, or no, they were
all redone about ’17– two years ago– so it’s all modern state of the art where the
dental student would probably have in their practice when they leave here like that. So
we offer that. At the end of the hall here we have a digital suite, which is where we
do our digital dentistry. We can teach our students that way. We have another program
where we have endodontics so we have a suite just for endodontics, and we’ve got two brand
new surgical microscopes in that facility right now. I was mentioning the digital dentistry. We’re
leading the country in this. We offer more digital dentistry for dental students than
any other school anywhere in the country. We have, like, 44 scanners. Some schools have
one or two. So we have a whole thing, and the students here can actually really advance,
because we have another process called implant dentistry where teeth can be extracted and
an artificial tooth placed– an implant. And we offer that to the students here. If they’re
qualified and they do well, they can do implants, which is really unique. Not too many dental
schools offer that. AMY JONES-TIMONEY: Wow. That’s Incredible. JEFF OKESON: This is our digital surgery suite
here. And so we do– well, we’ll see the patients here, and we’ll do a lot of different types
of procedures. And then get it into the– take images of that, take it into the camera,
and then use that into form the crowns and such like that. We actually offer our dental
students an opportunity to do crowns in one day, which is what dentistry is moving towards.
Like now, it used to be taking impressions and putting temporaries and waiting a month
or a week or two or whatever. Now they can put it– in, actually, to the computer, and
the computer will actually take it to a mill. It’ll be fabricated, and an hour later, they
can actually put the permanent crown in. So that’s really nice. That’s where dentistry
is going. AMY JONES-TIMONEY: Wow. I know these clinics
are very important– digital dentistry. Tell me a little bit about how the college is taking
what you all do here out beyond this building, kind of the outreach in the community. JEFF OKESON: Absolutely. We have– for years–
had a very strong outreach program. So our college, we have facilities that are in the
eastern part and now in the Western part. And we think it’s important for our– to serve
all the population of the state of Kentucky. And so we have these clinics out there for
individuals who can’t make it to Lexington, and the ones that are out there, the ones
that may not be able to afford some of the dentistry. So we’re providing some of that,
We have some clinics here, like every once a month, Saturday morning clinics where our
students volunteer. And you’ll see children that are really– mostly from Lexington–
who need dental care, and they’ll have funds. So you’ll have a number of things like that
going on, which is really, I think, what we need to be doing. AMY JONES-TIMONEY: Beyond the training and
education, what experiences do you offer your students? JEFF OKESON: We have seven postgraduate training
programs. And so, if they’re interested in, say, orthodontics, they can spend time with
someone who’s an orthodontist and appropriate. Oral surgery, periodontics. We have a new
endodontic program that’s just starting. We have an oral facial pain program, which is
one of the first– anywhere– actually. We started a clinic in 1977, and now we’re one
of the first programs to be accredited by the Commission of Dental Accreditation. And
often, these are multi-professional groups. So in the oral facial pain clinic, we have
psychology, we have graduate dentists who are there studying pain, and we have physical
therapists all working together. So the students come through our clinic and
rotate. They get to see the interaction between all the different professions. We have a wellness
clinic here, which is kind of unique. In some of the wellness clinic, we will teach the
students how to consider things like high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity and
all the other things that affect even the oral cavity, how the oral cavity is affected
by those disorders. So it’s a pretty thorough program. AMY JONES-TIMONEY: Is there anything that
you want the rest of campus to know about your college? JEFF OKESON: Yeah. I think so. This college
was founded in 1962 on three premises. We want our students to be biologically-oriented,
technically-capable, and socially-sensitive. And those are still the parameters of what
we think would make a good dentist. And so every time we graduate a dentist, we’d like
to think those people have all those qualities, and they’ll be excellent dentists for not
only citizens of the state of Kentucky, or the Commonwealth of Kentucky, but for the
United States and anywhere in the world. AMY JONES-TIMONEY: Oh, great. Well, thank
you so much for showing us around today. JEFF OKESON: Thank you for coming. I appreciate
it. AMY JONES-TIMONEY: If you would like more
information on the College of Dentistry, just visit the website on the screen.

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