Scholarship “Par-tee”! – The 2021 Annual Alumni Scholarship Golf Tournament

Golfers enjoyed a fantastic day on the course Friday, June 4 at the 21st annual UMKC Dental Alumni Scholarship Golf Tournament.

This year’s tournament took participants to WinterStone Golf Club in Independence, Missouri. As always, golfers were treated to food, fun, and some antics by way of wingspan drawings, hole contests, and a few mulligans.

The Alumni Scholarship Golf Tournament has awarded over $260,000 in individual scholarships to UMKC School of Dentistry students. Thank you to the steering committee lead once again by Dr. Joe Spalitto that included Dr. Chad Barth, Dr. Reese Graue, and Dr. Michael McCunniff.

Thank you to all of the players and sponsors for a great day of golf raising money for student scholarships! Don’t miss out next year as we celebrate the 23rd year of the Dental Alumni Scholarship Golf Tournament!

Find tournament photos here.

Team and sponsor photos here.

Timing of Molar Eruptions Linked with Stress, Harmful Rapid Development in Children

Research by a team including two UMKC School of Dentistry faculty is looking at how the early eruption of molars could be an objective, relatively inexpensive way to identify children who are experiencing faster physical development and biological aging.

Such early biological aging is associated with childhood stresses and traumas, and can lead to long-term health problems, said one of the UMKC researchers, Erin Bumann, D.D.S., Ph.D., M.S., assistant professor. Her research with JoAnna Scott, Ph.D., another School of Dentistry assistant professor, and faculty from the University of Pennsylvania was published June 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


“As a board-certified pediatric dentist-scientist, I have seen first-hand how children exposed to adversity can have decreased physical and mental health,” Bumann said. “We investigated a domain of biological maturation that has not previously been considered in the literature: tooth eruption. Tooth eruption is assessed routinely, unambiguously, and at an early age by a dentist. Since early childhood adversity drives early permanent molar tooth eruption, dentists could use tooth eruption timing as an early and easily assessed biomarker to identify individuals at risk of accelerated development, which includes earlier morbidity and mortality.”

In the study, which Bumann and Scott helped design, children were classified by factors associated with early stress, such as low family income and adverse childhood events. The children also underwent MRIs from which their molar development was accessed to see whether it correlated with their early life stress events. This was then confirmed with the CDC’s publicly available National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a continuing cross-sectional survey of the US population.

The summary of the research said, “These findings suggest that the impact of stress on the pace of biological development is evident in early childhood, and detectable in the timing of molar eruption.”

Using early molar eruption as a way to identify accelerated aging — and offering help to the stressed children — could have advantages over other methods that involve expensive testing or depend on later events such as the onset of puberty.

Bumann said she and Scott plan to continue their research by looking at the eruption of other permanent teeth. That work will be aided by the $10,000 N. Sue Seale Pediatric Dentistry Research Award, which Bumann recently received from the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry’s Foundation. Bumann will also apply for further support from the National Institutes of Health.
Their research findings are here on the Proceedings of the National Science Foundation website.


Live Graduation, Hooding and Awards Celebrations Honor 2021 Graduates

After a year of caution and sacrifice, UMKC and the School of Dentistry celebrated their Class of 2021 with live-streamed and in-person events large and small.

On Saturday afternoon, the weather cooperated and scores of dental hygiene and doctor of dental surgery students attended their live graduation at Kauffman Stadium. Graduation followed a hooding ceremony Friday for the DDS class just south of the World War I Memorial. And the dental hygiene class had its own special event earlier in May, its Senior Scholarship Day.
The ceremonies, though always memorable for students and their families, just might have been even more important for the classes of 2021.

“The hooding ceremony and live commencement events this weekend were wonderful. I and all my classmates feel so grateful that we were able to celebrate in person with our loved ones present!” said Jaime “Kika” Masunaga, D.D.S. ’21. “The circumstances prevented many of our classmates from gathering over the past year and a half, so to have this one last event where we were able to all be together, celebrating our journey and our accomplishment, felt all the more special.”

Bailey Howard, B.S.D.H. ’21, expressed similar sentiments: “The live graduation was amazing! I am happy I attended and truly grateful that I had the opportunity to walk across the stage in person.”

Howard, who has a job lined up at a public health center, added, “It is such a fulfilling yet surreal moment to have school behind me. I am very excited to get out into the real world and put my years of practice and learning to use.”

At the hooding on Friday, interim Dean Russell Melchert said the ceremonies “are an important moment for our dental school community to celebrate and recognize the successes and accomplishments of our graduates.”

“This is especially true for the graduates before us today whose education has been so different” because of the pandemic, Melchert said. “To be at this point in your journey has required a great deal of dedication, sacrifice, resilience, effort, humility, stretching, care, and accomplishment.”

Melcher noted that the dental Class of 2021 was “heading off to great adventures” in Missouri and Kansas, across the United States and even in Kuwait: 56 to private practice, 22 to a specialty/residency, 10 to public health clinics, eight to general practice residency, seven to advanced education in general dentistry residency, four to military service, three to pediatric dentistry, four to orthodontics and four to oral and maxillofacial surgery.

The hooding ceremony’s location was not lost on Taylor Michelson, D.D.S. ’21, who is part of the Army Health Professional Scholarship Program and now a commissioned captain heading to a one-year AEGD residency at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.

“The past four years were full of hardships and trials, but they also seem like they flew by in a blink of an eye,” she said. “It is amazing to see how far we have come with the completion of graduation requirements and clinic cases. I am really excited to continue my education, especially after such a strange fourth year of dental school, and getting to serve my country by doing what I love.“

Michelson added that it was great to share the hooding ceremony with family and friends “at such an iconic location in Kansas City. I loved how fun and unique the ceremony was for us.”

Graduation was bittersweet, she said, “but I know my fellow classmates are going to do great things. We have some of the most patient, inspiring, and caring faculty members at the dental school. I am so thankful for such amazing mentors to have learned from.”

For Masunaga, who will enter residency in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, becoming a dentist fulfills a dream and honors her UMKC alumni father and grandfather.  Masunaga said she was gratified that her parents, Scott Masunaga, D.D.S. ’82, and Millie Arucan-Masunaga, were able to participate in the hooding ceremony.  She also said at graduation he felt the presence of her grandfather, Glenn Masunaga, D.D.S. ’54, who passed away during Jaime’s D3 year.

“I have always looked up to both of them and feel proud to have followed in their footsteps,” she said. “My grandfather and many of my UMKC alumni mentors always talked about UMKC with so much pride, and now having completed the program I can see why.”

Masunaga added: “Over the years, I have always heard of the special connection between UMKC and its Hawaii alumni. The camaraderie and support that I have had through my ‘Hawaii family’ here in KC has been the highlight of my dental school experience. I am incredibly grateful to UMKC for welcoming students from Hawaii.”

Howard said that for her and her dental hygiene classmates, it was gratifying to conclude their years at the School of Dentistry with graduation and with their senior scholars awards. The scholars event included her induction into the dental hygiene honor society, Sigma Phi Alpha, which accepts top students who have demonstrated character, leadership potential and dedication to scholarship and service.

“Looking back, attending UMKC has been such a humbling and profound experience for me,” said Howard. “It’s taught me the value of education and helped build my professional and personal skills. I was honored to take part in UMKC Honors College and to be inducted into Sigma Phi Alpha. I can’t wait to see how I can contribute to the society.”

Within the Kuwait graduates this year was Rahad Behbehani, its first female since restarting the program.  Rahad is considered a very strong mentor and leader for the female students from Kuwait coming behind her. The first new cohort started as freshman in Fall 2009 and graduated with their DDS in 2017.

You can read more about the Dental Hygiene Program Senior Scholarship Day here and see photos from the event here.

Watch the graduation here.

Photos from the military induction ceremony here.

Find photos from the Hooding event here.

Potraits of the dental grads from the hooding cermony are here.

Photos of the individual grads being hooded are here.


Award Ceremony Honors Dental Hygiene 2021 Senior Scholars

The School of Dentistry’s annual Senior Scholarship Day celebrated the accomplishments of the Class of 2021 with awards and special presentations.

Among those honored were Katie Baker, whose awards included the Dean’s Academic Distinction Award, which goes to the student with the highest academic rank, and Christina Baker, assistant clinical professor and a graduate of the school, who won the Faculty Award.

Because of social distancing requirements, the May 3 event was live-streamed into a classroom at the School of Dentistry for the first-year dental hygiene students. Special guests included our interim dean, Russ Melchert; Assistant Dean Richie Bigham; and Desi Nuckolls from P&G Crest Oral-B, who announced student awards and scholarships.

The morning event also included presentations by the senior dental hygiene class, sharing their experiences in practicum rotations as well as highlighting portfolios and posters. The UMKC Dental Hygienists’ Association presented awards for poster winners and provided boxed lunches for all in attendance.

The Office of Student Programs provided decorations and a special treat for the event. The office of Biomedical Communications provided technical support. It was a special morning and one that won’t soon be forgotten!

The other awards:

Emily Murray won the Academy of Dentistry for Persons with Disabilities Award, presented to a graduating senior distinguished by demonstrating an active interest and concern for the dental needs of the handicapped and special patient.

Janine Osorio won the American Association of Public Health Dentistry Association of Public Health Dentistry Award, given to a senior dental hygiene student who has demonstrated a special interest or achievement in community dentistry and dental public health.

Brianna Mitchaner received the Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals Star Award, for a graduating dental hygiene student who demonstrates dedication to the dental hygiene profession, enjoys the dental hygienist’s role, exhibits compassion in patient care and displays enthusiasm for community service.

Abby Eskina won the Golden Scaler Award, sponsored by the Hu-Friedy Co., which honors a graduating senior who has shown strong clinical skills.

Katie Baker also won the Missouri Dental Hygienists’ Association Award and, with Bailey Howard and Kathleen Nguyen, induction into the Sigma Phi Alpha National Dental Hygiene Honor Society, which accepts top students who have demonstrated character and leadership potential and dedication to scholarship and service.

Addison Quinlan won the Dental Hygienists’ Alumni Association Sherry Burns Outstanding Clinician Award, recognizing exceptional clinical skills, a solid theoretical base and commitment to high-quality patient care.

Nursyuhada Huq won the R. Lois Scott Scholarship, awarded by the Scholarship Selection Committee of the Alpha Gamma Chapter of Sigma Phi Alpha, and Brandie Simonsen won the Sigma Phi Alpha Annual Chapter Scholarship.

Among the junior students, Cinthia Ramos received the Procter and Gamble Crest Oral B Preventive Dentistry Hygiene Award, given to a junior dental hygiene student who demonstrated exceptional potential as a developing health professional.

Photos from the day’s events here.

Dental Students Help Vaccinate UMKC Students

UMKC students turn out to get first dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Students from UMKC’s schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy and dentistry helped administer the shots


There was a big turnout Friday to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“Just doing my part in the community to make sure I’m safe around everyone else,” said Emma Wilson, a student at UMKC.

Wilson was just one of nearly 1,000 UMKC students who were vaccinated Friday. She said it’s a long time coming.

“I play on the soccer team here and it’s been pretty hard since we had to cancel our season,” she said.

Truman Medical Centers/University Health hosted the clinic, using students from four of UMKC’s schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy and dentistry to help administer the shots.

Watch the full story from KMBC-TV, Channel 9’s Alan Shope.

Virtual MDC 2021 Wraps Up

The first virtual Midwest Dental Conference came to a close on Sunday, April 18, 2021, with its final live Scientific Sessions, covering topics ranging from pediatric caries and emergencies to the stress- and pain-relieving benefits of yoga.

Conference participants also had another chance to visit the Virtual Exhibit Hall, where they could read about each company, interact with company representatives and enter to win such prizes as a Dental Survival Kit from Commerce Bank or an Amazon gift card from New Horizons. Each booth also had a link to sign up for the MDC raffle, which included one free registration to the 2022 conference.

Though the usual large MDC gatherings were not possible this year, the virtual format allowed people to participate from virtually anywhere, enjoying class reunions and business meetings by Zoom, along with picking up the latest knowledge — and CE credits — from some of the top authorities in dentistry and dental hygiene. Registered conference attendees will have access to recorded sessions for 30 days following the live portion of the event.

Thank you to the generous sponsors of MDC:
Presenting Platform Sponsor
Patterson Dental

Speaker Sponsors
Perio Protect

Exhibiting Sponsors
MO Health Professional Placement Services
US Army Medical Recruiting
Sunstar Americas, Inc.
Perio Protect
Missouri Dental Insurance Services
Goetze Dental
Ultradent Products, Inc.
Dental Practice Professionals
New Horizons Dental Practice Management
Insurance Pros, Inc.
Commerce Bank
Hero Practice Services

Looking ahead, save the dates April 21-24, 2022, for the next MDC, when we hope to be able to see you in person.

DAY THREE Was a Busy One at the 2021 Midwest Dental Conference

DAY THREE was a busy one at the 2021 Midwest Dental Conference, offering a full day of first-rate CE courses, along with awards, reunions and a Bingo break.

The day’s courses included a hands-on workshop, Mastering the Class II Restoration, for which participants received supply kits in the mail. The other topics covered included next-level dental hygiene; documentation practices that can help prevent lawsuits or defend a practice once a suit is filed; the fast-growing demographic of geriatric dentistry; and mental health’s role in office safety and patient care.

Besides the courses, at noon the Alumni & Friends Recognition Event honored some outstanding alumni and other supporters of the school.

A happy hour at 4:30 invited participants to enjoy a BINGO! Break.

And at 5:30, the SNDA/HSDA Alumni Reunion invited all current and past Heart of America Dental Society members, SNDA/HSDA members and friends to a virtual get-together. Class reunions also have been taking place and drawing lots of happy faces and interaction on Zoom and similar platforms.


The conference will wrap up today, concluding our first virtual MDC.

Be sure to save the dates of April 21-24, 2022, so we can see you again – we hope in person!

Pouring from the Heart, a Virtual Mask-urade, Helps Fund Student-Patient Dental Care

Pouring from the Heart, the School of Dentistry’s annual fundraising event, went virtual this year, Friday, April 16th, allowing alumni and friends from virtually any location to participate.
Gifts ranged from decorative and delicious to sporting and opulent. Flowers, jewelry, barbecue and a year’s supply of Belfonte ice cream (a Pouring from the Heart regular) were available.

Sports fans bid on a Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant jersey, signed by the late basketball star, and a Superbowl helmet signed by Chiefs great Travis Kelce. And one lucky bidder won a luxury vacation to visit Sonoma wine country in California.

The auction was preceded by a program including some jazz performed by a an ensamble led by Dr. Andrew Moore; a lesson from Dr. Mike McCunniff on making the night’s signature cocktail; and words from Russell Melchert, interim dean of the school; dental hygiene students Katie Baker and Christina Hasiotis; 2020 DDS alumni Alia Emory and Ricky Atchison; and Dr. Eric Gottman, a faculty member who has worked with a variety of patients, including cancer survivors.

Dr. Mark Gregston, who will be president of the Dental Alumni Association in the coming year, was able to participate in the virtual event from Colorado. He said he enjoyed Dr. McCunniff’s “clever mixology presentation” and being able to peek in on some other parties. He also had the winning bids on some earrings and on the Travis Kelce helmet, especially nice as his sister and brother-in-law work for the Chiefs. He also said he was eager to get back to in-person meetings and hoped that would be possible for next year’s MDC.

Dr. Crystal Walker, who bought two “tables” for the event, is a big supporter of the school and Pouring From the Heart. She wanted to accommodate any members of her work team who wanted to stop by her house, and to support dental students after a difficult year.   “I thought it went well,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to meet in person, but the virtual event was well done.” And she had the winning bid for a Holladay Distillery Tour, “so that should be fun.”

Dr. Kathi Matthes said she always attended the MDC but hadn’t been able to stay for Pouring fromthe Heart for a few years, being busy raising children and establishing her practice in Lee’s Summit. So it was convenient to have the opportunity to attend online this year. And, she said, “We won the wine country trip!”

It wouldn’t seem like MDC without Pouring From the Heart, and Friday’s event made sure alumni and friends were able to party with a purpose and support the school. Proceeds from the event help finance student-patient clinical experiences.

Enjoy some photos contributed by participants.

DAY TWO of the 2021 Midwest Dental Conference

Friday, April 16th, DAY TWO of the 2021 Midwest Dental Conference, offered a packed schedule of online speakers, including sessions on everything from office oral surgery and implant esthetics to more successful posterior composite resin restorations to growth in a flat dental economy.

Besides earning CE credit while sharpening their skills and learning new ones, those attending were able to visit the Virtual Exhibit Hall before and between sessions. Each “booth” allowed visitors to learn about its company, interact with company reps and enter to win fun prizes such as a Dental Survival Kit from Commerce Bank or an Amazon gift card from New Horizons. Each booth also has a link to sign up for the MDC raffle, which includes one FREE registration for the 2022 conference.

Friday evening also saw the virtual return of our Pouring from the Heart fundraiser, with proceeds finding student-patient clinical experiences at the dental school .  You can read more about it here.

The MDC, which sadly had to be canceled last year because of the pandemic, returned this year in a reimagined virtual format attracting attendees and speakers from all over the country. The conference continues today and Sunday.

Check back here for daily updates, and mark your 2022 calendars for next year’s MDC, April 21-24, when we hope to see you in person!

MDC 2021 Gets Underway

DAY ONE of the 2021 Midwest Dental Conference, Thursday, April 15th, featuring MDC’s signature specialty lectures was a great success!  Sadly, the MDC, which had to be canceled last year because of the pandemic but returned this year in a reimagined virtual format attracting attendees and speakers from all over the country.  And on the eve of the conference, a special ceremony on Wednesday for the Rho Chapter of the Omicron Kappa Upsilon honor society welcomed new members and honored scholarship recipients.

The Thursday specialty lectures featured:

The 25th Annual Dr. Dan Cruz Memorial Lecture
Terry Donovan, DDS, Cer. Prosth., presented “Practical Pearls for Clinica Use:  A Day with Terry Donovan”

The 30th Annual Dr. Peter Fedi Periodontics Lecture
Suheil Michael Boutros, DDS, MS, FACD, FICD, spoke in the morning on “Implants in the Esthetic Zone: How to Avoid and Manage Complications,” and in the afternoon on “The Growing Prevalence of Peri-Implantitis: Diagnosis and Management of the Disease.”

The 28th Annual Dr. Robert Allen Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Lecture
Joe Niamtu III, DMD, presented “Common Cosmetic Procedures to Integrate into the OMS Practice.”

The school’s Dental Alumni Association. Dental Hygienists Alumni Association and Roy J. Rinehart Foundation boards also met Thursday afternoon.

On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, the OKU ceremony recognized initiates Lyndzie Brace, Abigale Frazier, Michelle Hendrix, Jaime Masunaga, Taylor Michelson, Bryson Nakatani, Brianne Schmiegelow, Cassandra Shannon and Megan Yamaguchi. This year’s faculty initiates were Dr. Mabel Salas andDr. Linda Seabaugh. Interim Dean Russell Melchert was an honorary initiate.

This year’s scholarships and their recipients are the William S. Kramer Award, Mahzad Jalili; and the Richard Ackerman OKU Scholarship Awards, Samuel Bertholf, Jumanah Behbehani, Richard Boehm, Bryce Boyd, Megan Ching, Katherine Hayes, Stephanie Kubik, Mikayla Stevens and Devonshire Whyte.

Check back here for daily conference updates.

And mark your 2022 calendars for next year’s MDC, April 21-24 when we hope to see you in person!