Dr. Luana Oliveira Named New AEGD Program Director

Luana Oliveira, DDS, MS, PhD, has been appointed as the new AEGD Residency Director.

Oliveira earned her dental degree at the Federal University of Uberlandia in Brazil. In addition, she earned MS and PhD degrees in Operative Dentistry and completed a 2-year AEGD Residency at the University of Florida. She has 15 years of prior academic experience at Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine and the University of Nebraska College of Dentistry.

Oliveira is taking over the program after a brief hiatus, which, she explains, allowed for some careful evaluation to ensure its success.

“The AEGD program had previously been intertwined with Faculty Practice, making it challenging to figure what was driving the costs,” she says, “However, when the program director resigned, the school took the opportunity to temporarily suspend the AEGD program and shift its attention exclusively to Faculty Practice. After careful evaluation, it became evident that it was in the best interest of both programs to separate them, given their distinct natures—one being an educational program and the other a non-educational program. This separation has allowed the AEGD clinic to assume control over its finances and prioritize both teaching and patient care. As a result, both programs can now focus on their individual growth and development.”

Oliveira says she is deeply honored to have been entrusted with the remarkable responsibility of directing the AEGD program and believes that it will thrive under her guidance.

“Drawing from my prior experiences, I can affirm that UMKC is an exceptional institution, offering incredible opportunities. I am here with a sincere commitment to learning and building connections within the UMKC community. Each day presents an opportunity to acquire fresh knowledge, which I can then apply to enhance the well-being of others.”

Those prior experiences include her services as program director for a two-year Advanced Education program at Nova Southeastern University. As the program director, she held the responsibility for overseeing all aspects of the program, including curriculum design, faculty recruitment, CODA accreditation, resident interviews, and clinic operations.

“The program was successful since day one, she says, “The highlight of the program was the exceptional clinical education offered to residents, which filled me with great pride. I have extensive background in clinical dentistry and my focus is to have an AEGD program that aligns with the most current dental practices.”

With her own recent completion of a two-year AEGD program at the University of Florida, Oliveira feels this has equipped her with valuable insights into the priorities and needs of students when it comes to their learning experiences. Along with her insights comes a series of goals she’s set for the success of the AEGD program at the dental school.

“My primary goal for the program is to achieve a high standard of clinical excellence. Our main focus is to refine clinical skills while exposing residents to a diverse patient base, gaining experience in treating complex cases with a strong restorative and esthetic component. The objective is to graduate highly skilled general dentists who can deliver exceptional care.

My short-term goal for the AEGD program involves an even greater integration of technology into dental education. We are in the process acquiring equipment to build a Digital Dental Laboratory in the AEGD clinic. Increasing adoption of digital dentistry techniques in the clinic is our focus now. We are placing a great emphasis on training residents in digital impression-taking, digital smile design, CAD/CAM technology, and 3D printing applied to clinical practice.

In addition, I value interdisciplinary education and collaboration. There is no better way to prepare our residents to work in team-based healthcare settings after graduation than working together with other specialties. We are fortunate to share the same physical space with Advanced Periodontics which give the residents an amazing opportunity to share patients and provide the best possible dental care.

Lastly, one of the main objectives of having an AEGD program is to serve UMKC patients and the community. That’s why we are here for! The AEGD program closes the gap between predoc clinic and Faculty Practice. We want to attract the best residents and get them ready to practice dentistry at the highest level. We are working hard to have all four positions filled next year and keep the clinic productive and becoming financially stable.”

Since starting at the School, Oliveira says she’s been overwhelmed by the assistance and encouragement they’ve received. “The saying ‘it takes a village’ is undoubtedly accurate and applicable in our situation,” she says.

As for the future of the program, Oliveira says she feels “exceptionally positive,” as over 14 applications have already expressed interest in the upcoming cycle.

Rural Health Rotation Program Begins Next Spring

The School recently started taking applications for the new Advanced Studies in Rural Health Program in partnership with Salina Family Healthcare Center (SFHC) in Kansas.

“The program emerged organically through conversations with oral health advocacy organizations, oral health providers and key stakeholders in rural communities, and looking at the data,” says Dr. Melanie Simmer-Beck, Professor, Chair, Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science and Interim Chair, Oral and Craniofacial Sciences, “There’s clearly a need for more dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants in rural communities.”

Charles A. Abbick III, DDS, Dental Class of 2009, is originally from Junction City, a rural town in Kansas, and is the Executive Director of Dental Services at SFHC. He has been with them for 14 years. Abbick’s role requires him to wear multiple hats – leader, instructor, and dentist. When he’s not managing his 20+ person team, he’s supervising and mentoring dental students on rotation, or providing care to dental patients.

Abbick says this all started with an email from Dr. Simmer-Beck, “I was interested. My leadership team was interested too. We had Zoom meetings and in-person meetings. We brainstormed about what a satellite dental clinic could look like and how we could get started.”

UMKC is no stranger to successfully collaborating with Community Health Centers throughout Missouri and Kansas to provide experiential student learning opportunities, and this new rotation will continue to make a great impact.

According to Abbick, with Kansas currently not having a dental school, a partnership between the UMKC School of Dentistry and SFHC could increase opportunity for more Kansans to become dentists, helping meet the need for dentists in rural Kansas.

“Rotations offer dental students a practice experience that more closely resembles real-life dentistry,” says Abbick, “Students can work with assistants, perform a variety of procedures in a single day, and see more patients per day. Rotations in rural areas give students exposure to career options in rural areas. Rotations in Community Health Centers (CHC) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) give students exposure to career options in public health.”

“Federally Qualified Health Centers are community health clinics that meet certain regulatory and quality standards,” says Dr. Bob Kraft, CEO of SFHC, “They are governed by patient and community boards. They must serve the interests of the community through regular needs assessments.”

Kraft explained that they are “different than free clinics in that there are charges for services provided, but they must care for all regardless of their ability to pay through the offering of discounted fees based on household income. FQHCs offer a range of healthcare services, typically grounded in primary healthcare services.”

And what makes SFHC different than other Federally Qualified Health Centers?

Kraft says that SFHC, in addition to offering medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, and optometry, has extended its impact through an outreach program designed to serve our community members where they are, including at homeless shelters, schools, and local businesses.

“SFHC provides care that is inclusive, comprehensive, and high-quality. We provide extraordinary care for all… no exceptions,” he says.

Kraft explained that one of the things what sets SFHC apart is the primary objective of educating the next generation of healthcare providers. Prior to SFHC, in 1979, the Smoky Hill Family Medicine Residency Program was established to train family doctors for rural Kansas, which is part of their long history of healthcare education.

“In 2022, we helped train 63 students from these various disciplines,” he says, “In 2023, SFHC leaned into our educational mission through the creation of a community-based clinical pharmacy residency. SFHC strategic plans include greater collaboration with UMKC School of Dentistry to help train dentists for future community-based practice.”

Currently, all fourth-year dental students participate in a 3-week externship at a community health center. About half of the students self-select to complete their externship in a rural community, and, Simmer-Beck says, “It’s not unusual for our students to return to UMKC with a job offer in hand.”

A potential job offer isn’t all that students can gain for this opportunity.

“If a dental student comes to Salina for an extended rotation,” says Abbick, “they will see more patients, gain more experience, and develop their clinical skills more quickly. They will have the opportunity to tell us what they want to get out of the rotation. If they want more surgical experience, we will give them more surgical extraction and tori reduction cases. If they want more pediatric dental experience, we will give them more stainless-steel crown and pulpotomy cases. They will have the opportunity to work with each one of our four staff dentists. Our dentists have different backgrounds and different experiences, but we all enjoy dentistry, and we all enjoy working with students.”

Abbick says, “I care about delivering a high-quality educational experience. Whenever a dental student comes to Salina, I personally do everything I can, so the student gets as much from the rotation as possible.”

His inspiration to become a dentist came from his dad, Dr. Marion G. Abbick, Class of 1973. Abbick says his dad had a successful dental career and practiced in Junction City, KS for nearly 40 years and is now enjoying a well-deserved retirement in Milford, KS.

With the history and legacy rooted in the Salina rotation, the School is hopeful this new rotation will allow students to gain a deeper insight into what it takes to be a dentist is a rural community and meet the needs of the communities outside of Kansas City while helping them further their career.

The rotation is slated to begin in Spring of 2024.

Kuwait Program Participants

The UMKC-Kuwait Dental Student Program began in 1989 as an agreement between the curators of the University of Missouri, the State of Kuwait and its Ministry of Higher Education. Currently, the program admits up to five students per year, and the State of Kuwait provides full financial support. This year’s graduates of the program are Abdullah Akbar and Ahmed Almuweel.

A Success to Smile About: Honoring the Dental Hygiene Class of 2023

Academic achievements, generous service and clinical excellence are just a few of the noteworthy aspects of the Dental Hygiene Class of 2023 that were celebrated on Friday, May 12, by faculty, alumni, family and friends.

Well-deserved awards were presented, accomplishments recognized and there were plenty of opportunities to kindle new connections at a luncheon hosted by the UMKC Dental Hygienists’ Association. Continue reading

Congratulations, 2023 Graduates!

Three cheers for fourth years: Celebrating the Dental Class of 2023

This year’s dental graduates achieved in and out of the classroom. They learned during a global pandemic and responded to calls of service and leadership. They succeeded academically and put lessons into practice on the clinic floor. The annual hooding ceremony on May 12 was an opportunity to honor our graduates and those who supported the journey to their doctoral degree. Continue reading