University of Maryland Dental Students Advocate for Continued Support in Annapolis
Before students began their day in Annapolis on Feb. 8 to meet, one-on-one, with their state legislators, alumnus Norman Tinanoff, DDS, MS, reminded them that "the dental force produced at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry is the primary dental force for the state."
It was the students' annual University of Maryland School of Dentistry's Advocacy Day. To kick off the day, Professor Tinanoff, chair of the School's Department of Pediatric Dentistry, also asked the dental and hygienist students to say that "this dental school is for the citizens of Maryland."
The students then fanned out to thank the law makers in their offices for their support of issues vital to helping the School maintain its high standing in dental education and further improve the oral and overall health of Maryland residents.
The dental hygiene students asked legislators to support a bill that would permit dental hygienists to perform so-called BLOCK anesthesia-a practice using fewer injections to improve patient comfort and, as one student said, "increase the independence of the dental hygienist, so [the dentist's] patients are not kept waiting."
The legislators and School of Dentistry students and faculty discussed the issue of how the average debt of more than $146,000 for a dental school graduate and $23,000 for a graduating dental school hygienist limits the opportunity for many to work in underserved areas or to pursue a public health careers. The students thanked the legislators for their past support of the Maryland Dent-Care Loan Assistance Repayment Program.
They also shared with the legislators some pertinent facts:
" The School of Dentistry provides vital oral health care services for thousands of patients who struggle with access to dental care.
" In Fiscal Year 2011, 24,366 adults and 5,220 children were treated.
" There were nearly 7,000 Medicaid patient visits last year.
" The School is the state's largest dental treatment center for HIV patients.
" More than half of the School's 120 annual dental graduates and 35 dental hygiene graduates work in Maryland and become community leaders.
" Research faculty collaborate with other researchers worldwide to discover new cures and treatments. In Fiscal Year 2011, the School increased its extramural research funding by 14 percent.
Established as the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery in 1840, the University of Maryland School of Dentistry is the world's first dental college. The School's mission is to improve the quality of life in Maryland through education, research, and service related to health, with special emphasis on improving dental, oral, and craniofacial health through comprehensive education, research, and service programs.