Teaming up for TeamSmile with the Royals

Each year, student and faculty volunteers join forces with TeamSmile and Kansas City’s professional sports teams to deliver dental care to disadvantaged children. On February 16, volunteers saw over 200 children at the Royal’s TeamSmile event at the Urban Youth Academy.

According to their website, “By partnering with professional sports organizations, we create an experience that develops bonds between children’s organizations, oral health professionals, surrounding communities, and the athletes that solidify the message that oral health care is vitally important to long-term health.”

Thank you to our student and faculty volunteers for taking your time to make a difference in the lives of children in the Kansas City area!

Student Volunteers:

  • Hannah Ragsdale
  • Bethan Castro
  • Riley Katsev
  • Matthew Wahle
  • Kendell Cline
  • Davis McCallister
  • Sarah Godwin
  • Sam Douglas
  • Nicole Riggs
  • Alex Cook
  • Sophie Rosen
  • Mackenzie Kortz
  • Cole Anderson
  • Jay Trivedi
  • Tessa Travelute
  • Halle Bucher
  • Mackenzie Clark
  • Ashlyn Harbaugh
  • Lydia Winger
  • Adison Basey
  • Olivia Hombs
  • Anastasia Krueger
  • Alexis Parke
  • Anna Daveline
  • Riley Purdun
  • Amy Schmiemeier
  • Abby Loch
  • Derick Lopez
  • LillyAnn Swyers
  • Jessica Woods
  • Mahdi Banai Nejad
  • Jamaica Lovan
  • Madison Lara
  • Anaisa Garcia-Flores
  • Olga Besestre

Faculty Volunteers:

  • Dr. Becky Smith
  • Dr. CJ Ehrenberger
  • Dr. Kim Bray
  • Prof. Tanya Villalpando Mitchell

View photos from the event here.

School Hosts Multicultural Luncheon

As part of ASDA Diversity Week, students, staff, and faculty participated in a Multicultural Luncheon, supported by ASDA, Office of Student Programs, and Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, to celebrate and learn about the different cultures represented within the school and community.

Representatives provided perspectives on their cultures and history to create an opportunity for everyone in attendance to learn together. In addition, food representing a variety of cultures and ethnicities was enjoyed by all.

View photos from the event here.

Giving Smiles for Children’s Dental Health Month

Every February, National Children’s Dental Health Month brings together professionals, healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their families and caregivers.

For over 15 years, the dental school has participated in observing the event championed by the American Dental Association. A big part of the month includes Give Kids a Smile, which offers free dental care to children in the Kansas City area, 0 – 17 years old in need of dental exams, teeth cleanings, dental sealants and fluoride treatment. Kids are shown how important oral health care is in a fun, interactive environment.

Rather than spend a day giving kids smiles, this year, the school hosted Give Kids a Smile for a week to spread smiles to as many community members as possible.

View photos from the event here.

Showing Off our Chiefs Spirit!

As the Chiefs head into Super Bowl weekend, our School of Dentistry family is showing their spirit in anticipation!

Submitted by Prof. Tanya Villalpando Mitchell, Dental Hygiene

Submitted by Andrew White, showing his spirit in Australia

Submitted by Valorie Moore Porter, Building & Business Office Associate

Submitted by Meredith Krause

Submitted by CSR

From the clinics and labs, to our offices and as far as Australia, there was not shortage of red and yellow! Take a look back at our past Super Bowl spirit here.


Dental Hygiene Students, Alumni and Faculty Volunteer at Missouri Special Smiles Event

This February, several Dental Hygiene students, alumni and faculty volunteered their time in St. Joseph, MO, offering comprehensive oral health care screening, instructions and helpful tips to Special Olympics athletes as part of the Special Smiles discipline of Healthy Athletes.

This is one of the many screening events the Dental Hygiene department continues to be a part of to serve the community. Participating faculty, students and alumni include:

Macila Arnold RDH, Alumna
Shannon Finneran RDH, Alumna
Ashley Hobbs RDH, Alumna, Faculty
Phillip Montoya DDS, Alumnus
Shannon Finneran, Faculty
Lilly Ann Swyers, Dental Hygiene Senior
Tessa Travelute, Dental Hygiene Senior


Photos courtesy of Ashley Hobbs, RDH

Welcoming Our Inaugural Advanced Standing Dental Program Students

On January 16, the dental school hosted an orientation for the nine inaugural Advanced Standing Dental Program students. The program focuses on training dentists who have a degree from a foreign dental school and are now U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Many students have worked as dental assistants, dental hygienists, researchers, and educators while living in the U.S. and now desire to have a United States dental degree from a CODA approved institutional program, allowing them to be eligible to practice in the United States.

It includes a semester-long didactic, laboratory and patient care orientation to the school’s dental curriculum and course of study. The cohort will then “transition” into the third-year dental class, the DDS Class of 2026, during the summer term and complete the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) curriculum.

Hosted by the Interim Program Director, Dr. Gustavo Leal, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences, and Dr. Yesim Stevens, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences, students met with school leadership and faculty, including Dean Steven Haas, department chairs and team leaders.

After introductions, students learned about what will make them successful in dental school and the tools and resources available to them to do so, followed by computer checks, composite photos and gathering their instruments. After a full day of learning all that they will be doing now that they’ve joined UMKC, students got together for lunch and a group photo.

Cohort Profile: 9 students
Gender: 8 females, 1 males
Countries Where Dental School Completed: Cuba, India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates
Average Dental School GPA: 3.72
Passage of Integrated National Dental Board Exam: All Students
U.S. States of Resident: California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina

Congratulations to our inaugural program members! Wishing you every success as you begin your journey with us.

For more details on the program, click here.

To view photos from the day, click here.

School Comes Together for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

Dozens of UMKC School of Dentistry students, staff, faculty and friends from GEHA Solutions assembled 2,000 dental hygiene kits for the school’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on Monday, January 15.

Kits were delivered to Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Welcome House, Amethyst Place and City Union Mission.

Supplies for the kits were provided by the School of Dentistry Departments of Dental Hygiene and Dental Public Health, UMKC Bookstore, GEHA Solutions, and Proctor & Gamble.

Appreciation goes out to everyone involved in participating in this day and helping live out the legacy of service and community while remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

View photos from the event here.

Schools Hosts Year End Holiday Celebration

Tis the season for the School of Dentistry’s annual holiday lunch!

Hosted by the School of Dentistry Staff Council and Dean Steven Haas, this event brings faculty, staff and retirees together for a traditional holiday lunch before all depart for holiday break.

From decking the halls to dawning festive apparel, raffling off gift baskets and playing games, it’s clear that all were in the holiday spirit this year.

The season isn’t complete without giving, and in addition to donated gift baskets, many donated non-perishable food items to the UMKC Kangaroo Pantry, a charity providing food assistance for those in need within the UMKC community.

Staff Council members also took leftovers from the lunch and donated them to Ronald McDonald house.

View photos from the event here.

School of Dentistry Staff Give Perspectives on New Building Project

With the new Healthcare Delivery and Innovation Building on the horizon, staff at the UMKC School of Dentistry are just as excited as our faculty, students and administration and have offered their insights on how this will impact their operations for the better.

Roy Potter, Senior Tech Resource Manager, has a long history in the school, and working in Biomedical Communications, has been able to see changes that have taken place over his multiple decades there.

“I have seen lots of advances in the multiple decades that I have been at the dental school,” says Potter. “This is a great opportunity for our school to showcase all the newest technologies that we have been working to integrate into our student’s education and our patients care. These 3D technologies enable our student and faculty doctors to use the most accurate and leading-edge equipment to more efficiently give advanced treatment for their patients. These new clinics will continue to attract new local patients who need dental care and will demonstrate to our long-standing patients that we are committed to gaining the most advanced technologies and the highest quality of dental students to serve our community. I love exploring new dental technology and so do many of our students and faculty. This is going to be a lot of fun!”

Maryjane Bruning, Clinical Services Manager and Infection Control Coordinator, was excited to be a part of the process so that her department, along with others could give insight into efficiency and best practices.

“It is an honor to be part of the process. Having the opportunity to give early input on the decisions about clinic operations,  infection control and the workflow in the school’s Central Sterilization and Dispensary was greatly appreciated,” says Bruning. “Knowing the needs and learning about the options and parameters available and then being an integral part of the group that developed layouts and select equipment helps to overcome existing short comings and is going to make the move that much easier.”

Dana Linville, Manager, Patient Accounts and Patient Services, says she’s excited about the new technologies available to patients in the building, which enhance their experience.

“The additions will streamline patients through the administrative portion of their care,” says Linville, “Self-check-in kiosks will be incorporated to expedite patient check in and even print out personalized directions to patient’s clinics. The building will be secure, so QR codes printed on the directions will grant access throughout the building. We hope these changes will decrease time spent in queue lines avail more time for dental treatment in the most comfortable and secure environment available.”

Tara Lane, Patient Liaison at the School of Dentistry, echoed that sentiment.

“The new building will offer a more efficient and safer environment for our dental community,” says Lane, “It will also allow a much smoother transition from patient check-in to the patient being seated in the dental chair and check out.”

To view building renderings and get more details on other units in the building, click here.

An Annual Celebration for the Sweet Tooth: School Holds 2023 Cookie Crunch

Some things never go out of style, and with Cookie Crunch having been celebrated at the dental school since the 1970s, it’s safe to say this event is one of them.

“The long-standing tradition of the Cookie Crunch at the School of Dentistry began as a ‘thank you’ to our students for choosing the dental school and to provide them with something homemade after a long semester away from family, and before they took on the challenges of final exams,” says Danita Johnson, Student Services Coordinator, Office of Student Programs.

The dental school’s Staff Council hosted the event on December 7. Amid the buzz of faculty, staff and students, were tables lined with trays of baked goods from end to end.

“Over the years there have been different variations of the Cookie Crunch,” Johnson continues, “but the success of the Cookie Crunch has always been because of the  faculty and staff who have provided contributions of baked goods, candy, and cash donations. To this day the foundation holds true – it’s about giving our students a taste of something homemade.”

Alec Zier, Executive Assistant, Dean’s Office and Staff Council President, says the event that was once foreign to him grew to be one he anticipates.

“When I first started at the School of Dentistry a little over 5 years ago, Cookie Crunch seemed like an odd event to me,” says Zier, “but I love cookies, so didn’t ask questions. Now I see it as a time for faculty, staff, and students to pause for moment of levity and fellowship during a stressful time of the semester. While the organizers and specifics of Cookie Crunch have changed a bit over the years, I look forward to it every year.”

Some of those organizers, Jamie Charles, Business Office Support Assistant, and Jade Townsend, Dental Front Desk and Staff Council Secretary, also shared in the love of the event.

Charles (pictured above, middle) celebrated her fifth Cookie Crunch this year. “I love Cookie Crunch! One of the things that I enjoy most about the event is the excitement we can see and feel from the students,” she says, “They actually start hanging around 20 minutes before the event and wait with bated breath for the clock to strike 11:30 a.m.! Although it’s “just cookies,” it is a small, tangible way for us to thank our students, our customers, for choosing our school.”

Townsend (pictured above, right) is new to the dental school this year, but is already making an impact. “I have been striving to provide the best Holiday Cookie Crunch done thus far,” she says, “The year 2023 has opened many doors, becoming one of the many great Staff Council board members was one of them!” She noted the event is “set in place to reward and celebrate the hard-working dental students, giving them the opportunity to rest from all the hard work the students have accomplished throughout the year.”

View all photos from the event here.