School to Provide Free Dental Care for Children

The UMKC School of Dentistry is honored to provide free dental care to our community as part of the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile campaign.


On Friday, February 3, 150 students and faculty from the UMKC School of Dentistry will treat up to 100 children in need of oral health care.

Children ages 17 and under can receive free dental exams, teeth cleanings, dental sealants and fluoride treatment.

The event is from 9 a.m. – noon at 650 E. 25th St., Kansas City, MO. All children must be accompanied by a parent/guardian to receive care.

Pre-registration is required.

Register here:

Student National Dental Association/Hispanic Dental Association Host Dental Explorer Research Post Members

The activities allow members to mirror the experiences of first year dental students.

During the series of sessions that span a year, participants make dental impressions, take dental x-rays, drill and place sealants on plastic teeth, make 3D scans and mil and dental restorations or crowns. They also participate in mock dental application interviews and receive feedback from experienced interviews to improve interviewing skills.

Each session is led by faculty that includes Drs. Derrick Williams, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences, Lisa Tao, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Periodontics, Megan Wendland, Assistant Professor, Department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science, Tanya Gibson, Associate Professor, Department of Oral Medicine, Pathology and Radiology and Gustavo Leal, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences and John Cottrell, Director of Minority Programs for the school. Members of the Student National Dental Association/Hispanic Dental Association and other interested dental students assist to offer one-on-one mentoring and ensure proper protocols are observed.

Photos here.

SADHA Assist Operation Breakthrough with their Fall Festival

The mission of the Student American Dental Hygienist’s Association (SADHA) is to improve access to quality oral health care, increasing awareness of the cost-effective benefits of prevention, and engage in philanthropic events that make an impact in our community.

The annual Fall Festival held by Operation Breakthrough presented the perfect opportunity to engage, decorating tables and pass out candy to all the children and families that walked by. “Their costumes and excitement were so cute and fun!” one of the volunteers commented.

Members from the Dental Hygiene Classes of 2023 and 2024 assisting at the event included

• Vi Tran
• Myrissa Humphreys
• Cameron Nhotharack
• Tawnya Guthrie
• Gabrielle Dent
• Sydney O’Brien
• Adison Basey
• Jessica Woods
• Anaisa Garcia-Flores
• Ashlyn Harbaugh
• Amy Schmeimeier
• Bailey Cavin

Photos here.

Scaring Up Smiles at Boo at the Zoo

Kansas City Zoo recorded 12,000 guests on Saturday and around 10,000 on Sunday for the fall event.

Dental and Dental Hygiene students from several student lead organizations along with Dental Hygiene Faculty, gave children the opportunity to demonstrate their brushing skills on oral hygiene puppets.

Instead of giving out candy, children received vampire fangs. Kansas City Zoo guests were also informed about the opportunity to find a dental home at the School of Dentistry if they did not already have one.

Photos here.


Dental School One of the Beneficiaries – Sunderland Foundation Gives $30 Million to UMKC Health Sciences District Project

New cutting-edge educational facility will serve as a catalyst for growth and position the district to become a premier academic medical district

The University of Missouri-Kansas City announced a $30 million gift today from the Sunderland Foundation to help fund a new state-of-the-art dentistry and medical building in the UMKC Health Sciences District. The project will escalate momentum for expanding the district into a major regional academic medical center that can provide innovative health care, attract top dental and medical students and researchers and generate billions of dollars in jobs and economic development, while advancing care for the underserved.

The multi-story, $120 million Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Building will house new dental teaching clinics and expanded medical school teaching facilities. In addition, it will provide space for the UMKC Health Equity Institute, the university’s Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center and its new Biomedical Engineering program.

“We are grateful to the Sunderland Foundation for their investment in taking the Health Sciences District to the next level, spearheading an academic medical center with extraordinary community benefits,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “This gift — by a local foundation that supports making big positive change in Kansas City — is an investment not just in a building, but in a truly big, longer-term vision. We believe our new building will escalate momentum to exponentially expand the Health Sciences District in coming years to become the major regional academic medical center that we know it can be.”

On hand today to help announce the gift was Gov. Mike Parson, who in July signed legislation from the state of Missouri to appropriate $40 million for the building. This appropriation came with a challenge to the Kansas City community to raise the additional funds needed.

“We are proud to support the efforts of UMKC to improve educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math to expand health care access in the state of Missouri, particularly in rural areas,” Parson said. “Missourians will reap the benefits of increased collaboration between health care services and the data science and biomedical engineering programs that will share the building. This partnership could help further health outcomes through new, innovative solutions right here in Missouri.”

Grants from the Sunderland Foundation focus on brick-and-mortar projects for established organizations to foster a stronger, safer and more vibrant future for the communities it serves.

“The Sunderland Foundation is proud to give to UMKC’s efforts to transform the Health Science District,” said Kent Sunderland, chairman of the Sunderland Foundation. “The cutting-edge facilities will provide innovative training opportunities for tomorrow’s doctors, dentists and healthcare leaders who will improve prosperity in our neighborhoods, cities and state. The Sunderland Foundation and UMKC share a mission of caring for the underserved and lifting neighborhoods.”

UMKC is one of only 20 universities in the country where schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies and Pharmacy share a single, walkable campus, an arrangement that facilitates interprofessional training for students and opportunities for research collaboration among the health sciences.

Additionally, the new building will create opportunities for increased collaboration among UMKC and its health district partners including University Health and Children’s Mercy, which allows for a greater capacity for finding health solutions and providing patient care. This project will expand UMKC’s mission to elevate health equity across Kansas City, including many initiatives that work with the underserved including UMKC’s dental clinics, the Sojourner Clinic and the Center for Health Equity, which works through a network of churches in the urban core.

More About the Building

UMKC will occupy the first several floors of the project and additional floors may be available to public partners for medical office space, clinical space and other uses. University Health has already expressed interest in using space in the building to bring more of their support staff on campus.

Here’s what will be housed in the UMKC space:

School of Dentistry

UMKC has the only public dental school in the state of Missouri, as well as the only school in-state with dental specialties. New cutting-edge technology for Dentistry will serve students as well as the community, allowing for a lower cost dental care and faster turnaround time for patients, as well as the ability to implement a teledentistry program to further expand the program’s reach.

School of Medicine

The new building will provide state-of-the-art educational facilities for UMKC medical students and programs, such as space for more simulation labs, which lead to better training for students and better care for the community. UMKC will be able to educate more doctors, meeting critical needs in Kansas City, the region, the state and beyond.

UMKC Health Equity Institute

The UMKC Health Equity Institute was founded in 2019 to tackle complex and systemic health disparities and their root causes. UMKC students and faculty meet people where they are – in community groups and at local churches – and use their research strengths to bridge the gap in health care experienced by Kansas City’s underserved populations.

Biomedical Engineering

Proximity between doctors and developers of medical devices is paramount, and this new building will foster faster, more effective collaboration between engineers and medical professionals to accelerate product development in areas such as imaging technology, implants and microsurgery tools. UMKC will expand its ability for creating new technology, generating innovations for products and patents with the potential to work with companies to develop and produce them.

Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center

Through its expertise in data science, UMKC and its clinical partners are ushering forward a new era of personalized health care — one that will treat diseases based on individual variability in genes, environment and lifestyle, rather than a traditional one-size-fits-all approach. The data center’s work will drive innovation in a variety of domains, ranging from health care and business intelligence to agriculture and digital humanities.

Story by: UMKC Strategic Marketing and Communications

It Was Game On for Scholars!

GEHA Solutions continued to show support to their ten scholarship recipients by inviting them to the Chiefs vs Raiders game on Monday, October 10, 2022.  Beyond the scholarship support, it is important to GEHA Solutions that they nurture a strong, personal relationship with the student recipients so they know they are valued and supported in their journey.  GEHA Solutions were incredible hosts, providing parking passes, tickets, and dinner for the group; all enjoyed from the GEHA suite.  This was the first time for the majority of the students to attend a Chiefs game.  Cheering on the Chiefs together definitely brought the group closer and everyone was thrilled for the victory.  Guests included Olga Besestre, Anaisa Garcia-Flores, Derick Lopez, Anissa Love, and Jessica Woods from the Dental Hygiene Class of 2024, Jordan Baudoin, Chibueze Chiaka, Carly Jaquez, Nick Lopez Lara, and Gabriel Martin Sasamoto from the Dental Class of 2026 and Shonte Reed  and Andrew Thompkins from the Dental Class of 2023.  Shonte Reed and Andrew Thompkins, were able to spend time on the field and then in the owner’s suite to watch the game; were they met the Chiefs owner, Clark Hunt.  They were invited as they have provided strong student leadership and support for historically under-represented students.  Also attending were Richie Bigham, Assistant Dean for Student Programs, John Cottrell, Director of Minority and Special Programs. Dr. Melanie Simmer-Beck, Chair, Department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science and Director of the school’s STAHR program, and Dean Steven Haas.  All report it was an incredible experience!

Learn more about GEHA Solutions’ support for dental and dental hygiene students here.

Enjoy photos.

Championship Smiles All Around

Dental Hygiene Students volunteer at Missouri Special Olympics

Senior and Junior Dental Hygiene Students (DH 2023 and DH 2024) and their professor volunteered at the Special Olympics at the Special Smiles tent, Saturday, October 8, in Jefferson City, Missouri. They provided dental screenings and oral hygiene instructors to athletes in the Special Olympics at the day-long event.  Volunteering were Vi Tran, Lauren Hills, Jaden Greenwood,  Madison Hoffman, Cameron Nhotharack, Lilly Swyers and Prof. Ashley Hobbs.

See photos.

Oral and Craniofacial Sciences Researchers Present at Annual ASBMR Meeting

Researchers from the school’s Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences recently attended the annual meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.  Most presented scientific posters or oral presentations, others attended presiding as society officers.  Attending were Dr. Sarah Dallas, University of Missouri Curator’s Distinguished Professor and Lee M. and William Lefkowitz Endowed Professor, Dr. Mark L. Johnson, Professor and Chair of the Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences and Director, UMKC Center of Excellence in the Study of Dental and Musculoskeletal Tissues (CEMT), Dr. Nuria Lara-Castillo, Senior Research Associate, Lori Laughrey, School of Computing and Engineering and Dr. Mike Wacker, School of Medicine.  Attending virtually were Dr. Kun Wang, Senior Research Associate,  Mark Dallas, Research Assistant, Anita Xie, Senior Research Associate, Julian Vallejo, Senior Research Assistant and Ellie Ray, Research Assistant.

We Have Team Spirit

Students and faculty volunteer at Team Smiles event

A visit to the dentist with lots of smiles and fun , the Chieeeeefs way!

More than 60 UMKC School of Dentistry dental and dental hygiene students, faculty staff and alums volunteered at the Chiefs Team Smile event in Arrowhead Stadium recently. The Pedidatric Dentistry Club and Students Take Action (STA), both students organizations a the school helped to coordinate the volunteers from the DDS Class of 2023 and DDS Class of 2024. Chiefs players including James Winchester, Chad Henne, Darius Harris, Cornell Powell, Zayne Anderson, Justin Reid and KC Wolf, along with the Chiefs Cheerleaders encouraged the kids to take care of their oral health.  Other volunteers included local dentists, their office staff, DJ Kirby with 95.7 the Vibe and corporate sponsors. Over 400+ children were given dental care that day.   Dr. Bill Busch started Team Smile in 2007 after hearing the story of Deamonte Driver.

Students participating:
From the DDS Class of 2023 – Meredith Clark, Josie Dubois, Alexandria Thomas, Tyler Okunami, Ryann Burnett, Bryce Childers, Emily Bahadoorsingh, Shaley Baker,
Claudia Garcia Sanchez, Jimmy Dixon, Morgan Engelbrecht, Naiya Patel, Ryan Poertner, Liz Kutina, Cameron Long, Tony Raper, Maggie Herold, Brooklyn Woodworth, Kosha Desai, and Sarah Carney.

From the DDS Class of 2024 – Ingrid Helgestad, Alex O’Connor, Mason Albertson, Alison Riddle, Ivy Sparlin, Jordan Kane, Keely Stofer, Melissa Schmittgens,
Anh Nguyen, Chloe Andrews, Nick Dersch, and Kristina Nguyen.

From the Dental Hygiene Classes – Morgan Masters, Tawnya Guthrie, Madilyn Pritzel, Shairry Lene, Hayley Howe, Ayah Habashi, Bailey Sibley, Macie Bolger, Sidney Dennis, Mallory Smith, Jessica Perez-Pallares, Madison Hoffman, Myrissa Humphreys, Lauren Hills, Macila Arnold, Kara Collier, Vi Tran, Kathleen Rhodes, Cameron Nhotharack, and Emily James

Staff: Tammy Woods

Faculty attending: Dr. Eileen Cocjin, Dr. Becky Smith, Dr. CJ Ehrenberger Dr. Kim Bray, Prof. Ashley Hobbs, Prof. Kaitlyn Jondahl, and Prof. Tanya Mitchell.

Alumni: Dr. Megan Huenergardt, Dr. Tara Craven, Dr. Ken Connelly, Dr. Shawn Snider, and Dr. Shara Sims.

Photos here.

Some local media coverage


Recognizing Generous Benefactors and Deserving Recipients

The Annual Scholarship Recognition Dinner for 2022

It was more than a million…. dollars, that is.

The UMKC School of Dentistry distributed more than 400 awards to more than 200 dental hygiene, dental, and advanced education students from 182 endowed scholarship funds plus outside regional and national awards, totaling more than $1,200,000, a 10% increase over 2021. These scholarships and awards recognize student accomplishments in academics, diversity, leadership, clinical skills, patient care, and desire to give back to others.

Assistant Dean Richard H. Bigham welcomed the audience, and Dean Steven E. Haas presided over the recognition of the scholarship donors and recipients. In his remarks, Dean Haas noted “scholarship support is extremely important for students for many reasons:
Scholarships provide an opportunity for people to earn an education.
Scholarships help students have more time to focus on their studies.
Scholarships help fill gaps for those who cannot totally afford school costs and those who do not qualify for need-based financial aid.
The cost of education has significantly increased over time. Today our graduates are faced on average a staggering debt when completing the dental hygiene program and dental program. These amounts are significant and impact their practice and life decisions. UMKC School of Dentistry is lucky to have such strong supporters through the Dr. Roy J. Rinehart Foundation, the Dental Alumni Association and Dental Hygiene Alumni Association to help our students lighten this burden, allowing UMCK to offer a quality education at an incredible value.”

This year’s new scholarships also were announced: the GEHA Solutions Diversity in Dental Hygiene Scholars & GEHA Solutions Diversity in Dentistry Scholars, Dr. Robert G. Marx Scholarship, and the Dan Root Memorial Scholarship.

The proceedings included comments from Danial Canady, DDS Class of 2023 and Shairry Lene, Dental Hygiene class of 2023 who offered reflections on how scholarships have impacted finances during school and their plans after graduation. Dr. Nick Rogers, Alumni Donor and Chair of the Roy J. Rinehart Foundation shared the history of the foundation, the role and responsibility of alums and donors and they many ways they can give back.

Photos from the event and candids.

Group photos.