On MLK Day, School of Dentistry Volunteers Service for Thousands of Smiles

Students, faculty and staff assemble 2,000 dental-supply kits

From the outside, the UMKC School of Dentistry looked quiet Monday morning, befitting a day when classes were out and its clinics were closed. But inside, the cafeteria and second-floor hallways were abuzz with volunteers doing service befitting Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The volunteers’ mission: assemble 2,000 dental-care supply kits for distribution to points of need throughout the community. It was the second year for the dental school’s MLK Day of Service, and the number of kits was double the output of a year ago.
“It’s great to see everyone here volunteering,” said Shurouk Alkharabsheh, a third-year dental student. “I missed last year and wanted to take part this time. It’s good to do something productive with the day.”
Ryan Greenway, a second-year dental student, agreed: “I enjoy volunteering, and was bummed when I missed the event last year. But now I’m here! It’s also a nice break from our routine.”
Students got the dental-kit day of service going a year ago, and it has had the full support of School of Dentistry leadership. Dean Marsha Pyle was on hand Monday morning and took a brief break from her assembly line to praise the effort.
“I’m grateful that our faculty, staff and students have created this opportunity to do good in the community,” Pyle said. “It’s a team effort — and Kansas City loves its teams! It’s great to see this special effort on this special day, when we don’t have our usual commitments.”
Most of the kits were packed with an average adult in mind, with items including a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and information on the school’s clinical services and free dental cleanings available to the public. But one station packed kits suited to children, and another included supplies of use to older residents and people with dentures.
“I’m a big believer in volunteering, so this fits right in with my ideas. I participated last year and really enjoyed the sense of community.” – Mark Dallas
Richie Bigham, assistant dean for student programs, said the kits were bound for several places, including the City Union Mission, a program to help the homeless that’s on the original site of the dental school. The school also added a sock drive this year, as socks are an often-requested item at some of the locations that receive the dental kits.
Just as the kits will benefit the wider community, the volunteer corps this year drew from outside the dental school. One group came from St. James United Methodist Church, which also was sending volunteers to other locations around Kansas City for MLK Day.
“We’re happy to help here at the School of Dentistry,” said one parishioner, Phyllis Jackson, “and we have other volunteers today at Hospice House, Rose Brooks, Harvesters and other locations to honor the memory of Dr. King.”
Faculty and staff from the School of Dentistry rounded out the volunteers, including Mark Dallas, M.S., research assistant in the Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences.
“I’m a big believer in volunteering, so this fits right in with my ideas,” said Dallas, who joined the school in 2001 along with his wife, Professor Sarah Dallas, Ph.D. “I participated last year and really enjoyed the sense of community.”
The volunteers had started the day at 8:30 a.m. with a half-hour video on Dr. King’s legacy, and then they made fast work putting the kits together. By 11 a.m., they reassembled to be thanked by Jeffery Primos, director of business affairs, and then to make their first delivery, to nearby Ronald McDonald House.
The project will make a difference for hundreds of people, Primos said, “and embody what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for.”

The school’s good work gets noticed!

Find photos from the event here.

Caring for Kids – at the Holidays and Year-Round

The School of Dentistry shows its dedication to caring for children in many ways, including through its pediatric clinic facilities and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Student Club. For the holidays each year, the club gives back to the community by adopting a family through the Salvation Army.

This recent holiday season, Mittens the Snowman was set up in the pediatric clinic area and held tags bearing gift ideas for the adopted family. Students, faculty and friends recruited by the club took the tags and bought the gifts, making for happy holidays for the chosen family.

The club president, fourth-year DDS student Kelsey Lyden, said, “This event has been very special to our club each year. Donations are provided by faculty, students and staff from the entire dental school. It is a great way to bring all students together to support a good cause during the holidays.”

The club’s faculty mentor, Dr. Eileen Cocjin, DDS, clinical associate professor in the school’s Pediatric Dentistry Department, said she suggested the project a few years ago “because I wanted my students to do something that is not dentally related but for the community during the holiday season that would involve making children’s wishes come true.”

Dr. Cocjin added, “There is an obvious benefit to the families and children on the receiving end. I also hope that it will give the students a sense of joy and satisfaction to be able to help families who are less fortunate, one child at a time, one family at a time.”

Some photos here.

2109 Advanced Orthodontic Certificate Recipients Honored

The school’s UMKC Orthodontic Alumni Association hosted a dinner honoring three residents who completed their Advanced Education Certificate Program in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. Completing the program as well as requirements for the Oral and Craniofacial Sciences MS degree are Dr. Mary Becker, Dr. Kaylee Bergman and Dr. Laura Moore. Drs. Becker and Bergman plan to practice in the Kansas City area and Dr. Moore will be joining a practice in the Springfield, MO area.

Enjoy photos from the evening, courtesy of Jim Thomas.


Dental Explorers Peek into Forensic Dentistry

With the popularity of the many Crime Scene Investigation programs on television, it was no surprise that members of the school’s Dental Explorer post were fascinated by a presentation on forensic dentistry by Michael McCunniff’, DDS, MS. Dr. McCunniff, an extensively trained and experienced forensic dentist, is an Associate Professor Emeritus, former chair of the Department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science and former Director of Outreach programs at University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Dentistry.

In his presentation, Dr. McCunniff shared that Forensic Dentistry is commonly used as the second option for identification of an individual in the absence of clear facial recognition. He is a member of a Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT). DMORT teams are include forensic anthropologists, odonatologists (dentists), pathologists, medical legal investigators, computer specialists, and other support personnel. He showed a number of examples where he was involved in forensic activities both in and out of the country where Americans DMORT teams were called in to help with identification. He also discussed several famous murder cases and investigations in the Kansas City area, including one fascinating case where he assisted homicide detectives identify a murder suspect.
The second segment of the Explorer Post event was led by Student National Dental Association/Hispanic Student Dental Association (SNDA/HSDA) members. They helped conduct mock admission interviews, which are key in the admission and ultimate candidate selection process.

SNDA/HSDA members participating included Kim Kha, Njeri Penda , Meredith Gomes, Lena Adams, Drew Chatters, Yasmeen Qadi, Safa Nawazish and Uyen Hoang. Faculty members Dr. Derek Williams, Dr. Tiffany Tavares and John Cottrell also assisted.

Find photos here.

Staff and Faculty Holiday Lunch a Tasty Treat for All

The School of Dentistry Staff Council and Dean Marsha Pyle hosted staff, faculty and retirees to the school’s the annual holiday lunch, Wednesday, December 18, 2019. All enjoyed games, a traditional holiday lunch, a raffle for door prizes and numerous very popular gift baskets donated by departments. The festivities culminated with group photo of all in their most festive holiday attire. The UMKC Kangaroo Pantry, a charity providing food assistance for those in need within the UMKC community, benefited from generous donations of non-perishable food items. Enjoy photos here.

Free Clinic Recognizes UMKC Student, Professor

Congratulations to Yasmin Hussein and Dr. Eileen Cocjin of the UMKC School of Medicine. They were recently honored by the JayDoc Free Clinic as its Dental Night Student Volunteer of the Year and Volunteer Dentist of the Year.

According to Hussein, a fourth-year dental student, being part of the JayDoc Free Clinic allows her to fulfill a desire to give back. “It’s being a part of something bigger than myself,” she said. “Through stressful clinic sessions and many credit hours, it is easy to forget my purpose in choosing to be part of health care and dentistry.”

Cocjin, a clinical assistant professor in the school’s Pediatric Dentistry Department, said being recognized was a “humbling honor.”

“This award can only result from dedicated students who are willing to go above and beyond what they are expected to do to satisfy their passion to help those who are less fortunate,” Cocjin said. “I serve as a guide for them for what they would like to accomplish when given the opportunity.”

The clinic at the University of Kansas Medical Center provides non-emergency urgent and preventive care to the uninsured and underinsured populations of Greater Kansas City. It is one of several ways UMKC students and faculty provide volunteer service and care. The clinic has served more than 1,000 patients a year since its 2003 launch.

Mansoor Safder, a third-year UMKC dental student who helps organize the volunteers along with another third-year student, Nuvia Lemus, said it was great to see Hussein and Cocjin recognized.

“They both have been instrumental this year in helping the JayDoc program provide an invaluable service to a very deserving community here in Kansas City,” Safder said.

Hussein added, “Volunteering is an important aspect of my life. It reminds me of my purpose while helping me gain a new perspective on life and what is truly important. The best feeling is leaving after a long day of clinic knowing that I had some impact on someone’s life. And what better way to give back than dentistry!”

Caption for photo
Pictured (left to right) are Nuvia Lemus (D3), Dr. Eileen Cocjin (Department of Pediatric Dentistry), Yasmin Hussein (D4), and Mansoor Safder (D3).

2019 Oral and Craniofacial Sciences Graduates

The following 3 students completed the requirements for the Oral and Craniofacial Sciences MS degree. Congratulations!

Thesis Projects:
Dr. Mary Becker: The Effect of Simulated Oral Conditions on Surface Roughness and Friction Properties of Surface-treated and Non-surface Treated Nickel-Titanium Archwires: A Pilot Study
Dr. Kaylee Bergman: Influence of Orthodontic Bracket Bonding Protocol on Zirconia Ceramics and Resulting Bond Strength, Adhesive Remnant, and Debonded-Polished Zirconia Surface Roughness
Dr. Laura Moore: Esthetic Smile Preferences when Considering Age and Gender of Patients and Dentists

The following 2 students completed the requirements for the Oral and Craniofacial Sciences PhD degree. Congratulations!

Dissertation Projects:
Dr. Erica Jackson: Estrogen Regulation of the Wnt/β-catenin Pathway in Osteocytes in Response to Mechanical Loading
Dr. Rei Sekiguchi: Identification of Cell Types that Define Embryonic Submandibular and Parotid Salivary Glands Using Single Cell RNA Sequencing

Photos from their defenses here.

The Spirit of Giving is Strong at the School of Dentistry

The Salvation Angel Tree is an annual tradition, giving UMKC School of Dentistry students, faculty and staff the chance to make children’s wishes come true. The tree is decked with children’s wishes for gifts ranging from dolls to skateboards, and the wish cards are gone in a day. Soon after, the wishes come true, and dozens of unwrapped toys and other gifts appear. Year after year, the Salvation Angel Tree shows how the spirit of giving is strong at the School of Dentistry.

Annual COOKIE CRUNCH Was a Tasty Success

The annual COOKIE CRUNCH was a tasty success and a great way for staff and faculty to express appreciation for our students and all their hard work this year. The event Dec. 12 helped everyone celebrate as they were finishing finals and wrapping up the semester. A new feature this year was a photo booth, and the cookie contest had a few new categories, too.

Here are the winners!

Best Overall Cookie — Monica Rolf: Sprinkles of Love
Best “Non Cookie” — Stephanie Stewart Towns: S’mores Rice Krispy Treats
Best Student Submission — Anna DeLuca (DH 2020): Anna’s Chocolate Crinkle cookies
Best Faculty Submission — Julie Sutton: Andes Chocolate Cookies
Best Staff Submission — Valorie Moore Porter: Kitchen Sink Cookie
Honorable Mentions:
Bree Boger — Chocolate Chip Cookie
Ellyce Loveless — Cookie Dough Sandwich Cookie
Effie Mitulapolus — Mini Pecan Rolls
Stefan Lofeld — German Red Wine Cake
Dr. Robert Hurst — Triple Chocolate Thunder

Also a huge THANK YOU to Jennifer Pennington, Aaron David, Audriana Thompson, Karen Wilson, Lynn Prine, Breanna Boger, Ellyce Loveless, Richie Bigham, Danita Johnson and Bill Marse for all of their help and advice to keep this event going year after year!

Photos here.

Flossiraptors Break Through in Volleyball

The multi-sport School of Dentistry Flossiraptors are usually an intramural juggernaut, frequently winning or making the finals in flag football, basketball or soccer. Volleyball was the only sport in which the Class of 2021 teammates struggled — until now. This year’s squad went 6-0 and became intramural champs last week. Congrats to the Flossiraptors! The happy teammates in the photo below: (front row from left) Micayla Shrimpton, Taylor Rinda, Allie Moss; (back row from left) Chad Phillips, Aaron Howard, Stan Dotson (captain), Vince Markovitz.

Read a recent story about the teams here: https://dentistry.umkc.edu/flossiraptors-fight-fiercely-and-have-intramural-fun/