Dental Screening Event Helps Roll Out Reopened Dental Clinic

From kindergarteners to high school seniors, it was all smiles at University Academy

The UMKC School of Dentistry closed out February’s Children’s Dental Health Month strong, screening about 900 students at the University Academy, a Kansas City school serving K-12 students. More than 30 dental and hygiene students volunteered to provide care along with four faculty from the school.

The screenings are part of the lead up to reopening the dental clinic housed within University Academy. Opened in 2012, the dental clinic was temporarily shut down due to the pandemic. School of Dentistry faculty and students that provide care at the clinic say they are looking forward to reopening the clinic. Hayley Ferris, an instructor who works with dental hygiene students in the clinic, said the screening event played a critical role in the getting the clinic up and running again.

“This all-school screening will give us a baseline of where the population sits right now,” she said. “That way, we have an idea of what the needs are for these students before we go in with our preventative care.”

Dr. Megan Wendland, associate professor in the Department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science at the UMKC School of Dentistry, said additional funding from the state of Missouri was critical to the reopening of the dental clinic at University Academy.

“Our department is all about preventative care and preventing dental caries (cavities),” Wendland said. “The state had funding from the CDC to promote dental sealant programs and they said they would absolutely help with this.”

Ferris is returning to UMKC within the public health department to help manage the University Academy clinic. She helped established a similar clinic in the Olathe, Kansas, School District with Dr. Melanie Simmer-Beck, a professor and chair of the department. That program ran from 2007-2014.

The clinic at the University Academy is part of the dental school’s mission to provide health care in-house to students attending the school. UMKC will provide the oral health care in partnership with Children’s Mercy Kansas City, which manages the health clinic within the school. The dental clinic will be staffed by a UMKC dental hygienist and hygiene students who will provide preventive care, assessments, cleanings, fluoride, varnish and sealants.

“Right now, tooth decay is the number one childhood illness that causes kids to miss school,” Ferris said. “It’s extremely important that they have these resources available right there in the building so parents don’t have to take time off of work and kids don’t have to take time off from school.”

The experience is also beneficial to the participating third-year dental students, exposing them to a population they don’t get as much experience with, at least not 900 children at once.

“This is a great opportunity for them to see children in that mixed phase of having both permanent and primary teeth,” Ferris said. “And with pandemic restrictions, there aren’t as many of these outreach opportunities available to them so we filled up our sign ups in a matter of minutes.”

Children’s Dental Health Month is an initiative by the American Dental Association that promotes the importance of good oral health to children, their teachers and parents. The emphasis for this year’s campaign was on dental sealants for children. That is a welcomed focus for Wendland.

Wendland’s research focuses on disparities in health care and improving health outcomes in diverse populations. Sealants are an area she and the school focus on as a first line-of-defense in achieving those improved oral health outcomes. Sealants consist of a thin plastic coating that is placed on the back teeth, where a majority of cavities form. Wendland the sealants can prevent 80 percent of cavities.

“At University Academy, as well as our mobile clinic at Gladstone Elementary, we’re part of a big push to raise the national average for sealants,” said Wendland. “That average nationally is about 37 percent with the goal to push it above 40 percent. However, Missouri is at about 19 percent, which is obviously far and away from where we want to be.”

Wendland came to UMKC from Chicago where she was a clinician at a Federally Qualified Health Center. While there she experienced the scope of what a fully comprehensive program is capable of. The Chicago Department of Public Health partnered with the public school district to provide a universal sealant program to all K-12 schools.

“That program would see more than 120,000 kids a year,” Wendland said. “Currently, there isn’t anyone doing that kind of broad sealant program in Kansas City but having come from that model, ideally that’s what I would want to see.”

Assessing 900 children at the University Academy was a good start.

Photos here.


UMKC SNDA/HSDA Hosts Impressions Day

The UMKC chapter of the Student National Dental Association hosted an Impression Day, Saturday, February 5, 2022, an event hosted by SNDA chapters across the country to increase exposure to underrepresented minority students to dentistry as a profession and the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program. A hybrid event which included current dental students and faculty, twenty-five attended in person and fifty virtually via Zoom.

Breakfast was followed by an admissions presentation by Richard Bigham, Associate Dean for Student Affairs; Jimi Sode, Senior Manager of Dental Admission; and Jennifer Pennington, Enrollment Service Coordinator, all from UMKC. Scott Guerrero, STHAR Director, presented an overview of the STHAR program hosted at UMKC followed by John L. Cottrell, Director of Minority and Special Programs who discussed program requirements.  Participants were introduced to a dental student panel that focused on Student Life: Drew Dean, DDS Class of 2022, Precious Hollins, DDS Class of 2024; Dean Mohammadi, DDDS Class of 2024 and Vanessa Sena, DDS Class of 2024 panel. A second student panel, Lena Adams, DDS Class of 2022 Blake Echols, DDS Class of 2023, Francisco Flores, DDS Class of 2024, Daniel Archibong, DDS Class of 2024; and Anh Nguyen, DDS Class of 2024 provided DAT test taking tips and Applicant interview suggestions.

At noon, attendees participated in a drawing for a variety of door prized. The big prize was a DAT Boot Camp Certificate, followed by lunch and a Mock Grand Round Presentation given by Rukevwe Erhenede, DDS Class of 2022, and former SNDA/HSDA President.

SNDA/HSDA members gave those attending in person a tour of the school and then they had the opportunity to participate in hands on lab experience where they made the preparation for a dental filling on a plastic tooth.  The day concluded with remarks by Shonte Reed, DDS Class of 2024, President of SNDA/HSDA and Andrew Thompkins, DDS Class of 2024, Vice-President of SNDAHSDA.

Here are some participant comments highlighting the success of the event taken from an anonymous follow-up survey
• You guys were so helpful
• I appreciate the hard work that went into the Impressions Day
• I loved the transparency, honesty, and boldness.
• The workshop flowed well. I wish I could have been there in person

Photos here.

Dentistry Researcher Receives Prestigious Accolades

Mentorship is the fabric that runs through Erin Bumann’s work.

From a fellowship to funding, big things will be happening in craniofacial bone development in the lab of researcher Erin Bumann, D.D.S., Ph.D., M.S. at the UMKC School of Dentistry.

Bumann is an assistant professor in the Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences. The primary goal of her lab is to identify nonsurgical methods to change the size and shape of the bones in the face in hopes that children either do not need to undergo surgery or need less invasive surgery to address craniofacial deformities.

Most recently, she’s received foundational funding from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to public health. It’s especially meaningful for Bumann, whose grandfather is from Mexico, that the funding comes from the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program. The program was created to increase the number of faculty from historically disadvantaged backgrounds and will offer four years of support for her research as well as opportunities to network with fellow scholars in the program including an annual meeting.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to have colleagues around me from similar backgrounds, having some difficult conversations,” said Bumann. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to open up and have some honest conversations while also sharing resources and finding out what’s going on at other programs.”

Bumann has also been selected for the American Dental Association Gold Medal Fellowship. The award is only given out every three years to one individual nationally.

According to Bumann, her selection carries that much more weight because she was selected by one of her role models, Martha J. Somerman, D.D.S, Ph.D. Somerman was the first woman to win the ADA Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Dental Research. She is also the current past director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, an organization that has awarded Bumann a grant that enabled her to continue her research into jaw development in quail and duck eggs.

“Because of the pandemic I hadn’t had a chance to interact with her as much as in past years, so it’s been wonderful to catch up with her and reconnect,” said Bumann. “It’s really meant a great deal that someone with her breadth of experience looked at my body of work and saw it as impactful.”

Another opportunity that comes with the award is presenting her research as a continuing education course at the American Dental Association’s 2023 annual meeting.

“It’s such an important part of research, making sure that the research that we’re doing can directly impact patients,” said Bumann. “There can be a disconnect between dentistry and the research, so communicating with our clinical colleagues is so important and this is a great opportunity for that.”

Mentorship is an important part of Bumann’s work, not only as a mentee but also a mentor to others. “I’ve been really blessed all along my entire career path to have wonderful mentors,” she said. “Mentorship is a big part of what I enjoy and I think it’s so important to pay it forward.”

Bumann is an active mentor for a number of groups on campus. She is a part of the Avanzando Mentorship Program, which is designed to support Latinx students on campus with individualized support in reaching their academic and career pursuits. She also mentors through the Students Training in Academia, Health and Research (STAHR) Partnership, collaborative program with the UMKC schools of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy. The program is designed to increase the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering health care programs.

For Bumann’s time in the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, she’s excited to see where other schools have had success in their diversity programs. “I look forward to learning from colleagues at other schools and institutions who’ve already tried different approaches and finding out their best practices,” she said. “I’m hoping to bring some new ideas back with me to UMKC.”

Ultimately, one of the greatest gifts in mentorship for Bumann is seeing her mentees reach their ultimate goal at UMKC. “Last year, five of my past mentees – either from the STAHR program or my lab – all graduated,” she said. “To see that first cohort walk across the stage at Commencement was really special.”

Brandi Morey Named Recipient of a Graduate Assistance Fund Award

Brandi Morey, a graduate student in the Dental Hygiene Education Graduate Program at UMKC School of Dentistry, has been named a recipient of a Graduate Assistance Fund (GAF) award from the UMKC Women’s Council. She will use the awarded funds to support her studies.

Established in 1971, GAF funds are designed to assist with the completion of requirements for graduate and first professional degrees, to help facilitate studies beyond the classroom, and to enrich and encourage educational experiences. Since its creation, the GAF has assisted more than 2,300 women by providing more than $2.1 million in graduate fellowships. This year, 53 female graduate students will receive $90,000 in assistance.

Student has Contagious Passion for Dentistry

Future dentist presents at her hometown career day

When fourth year dental student Victoria Bridwell was invited to speak at her high school career day, she knew her passion for dentistry would be evident. What she didn’t expect were all the thank you notes.

At the actual career day, Bridwell presented in one of the school’s classrooms where the students would rotate between different presenters. She estimates that she spoke to over 100 high schoolers over five sessions. The students impressed her with their attentiveness and questions she received from them. But what was unexpected was the show of appreciation for her presentation.

“About a week later I received a package in the mail full of hand written thank you notes from many of the students,” said Bridwell. “When I opened it, I almost started crying. I had no idea those were coming but it absolutely warmed my heart.”

Bridwell’s former guidance counselor at Willard High School, located near Springfield, Missouri, asked her if she would want come back to participate in the school’s career day. It was actually the second time they had put out the invite but prior request came during her first year of dental school.

As most first years know, that is a big ask. “There was obviously know way I could make that happen with all my finals,” said Bridwell. “This time I was able to make it work. It was an honored they asked me and I was excited to share my passion for dentistry.”

Her passion for dentistry began at a young age. She knew she wanted a career in health care, with helping people as her end goal but she wasn’t sure what exact path she’d pursue. Ultimately, it was the time she spent in an orthodontics chair getting her braces that convinced dentistry was right for her. It was the positive change she experienced with her newly straightened smile and the confidence she gained.

“I love that dentistry is medical science but it’s also artistry,” said Bridwell. “Your using your hands to take something that is broken or diseased and causing pain, and make it not only functional but beautiful again.”

Bridwell is the first person in her family to go to college so it was important to her to also provide the high schoolers some general tips and tricks for managing the collegiate experience. She remembers being in their shoes, feeling like she didn’t have many people she could ask about what to expect from college. She of course covered all things dentistry but also emphasized things like campus visits.

“I just wanted to give a little guidance, give them a chance to ask questions they may be afraid to ask when they’re visiting colleges,” said Bridwell. “Even if dentistry isn’t their path, I wanted to give them some advice and direction for their future.”

Emerita Faculty Dr. Cindy Amyot Contributes to Foundational Report

Congratulations to one of the school’s emerita faculty, Dr. Cindy Amyot, who is a contributing author to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) publication, Oral Health in America: Advances and Challenges. The foundational report is a comprehensive effort to tell the whole story of oral health in America. Two decades ago, the predecessor to this report was published by the Surgeon General and was considered a public health milestone. Amyot is a former associate dean and previously was the director of the division of dental hygiene. She is also a UMKC alum several times over: BS DH ‘92, MSDH ‘93, Education Specialist ‘00 and Doctorate of Education ‘03.

According to Amyot, it’s surreal being listed amongst such prestigious researches. “I am honored and humbled to be a contributing author for this publication,” she said. “I consider this a career highlight. Onward!”

New Orthodontic Research with Cleft Palate Patients and AI THEDEPARTMENT OFORTHODONTICS and Dentofacial Orthopedics has partnered with the Children’s Mercy Hospital craniofacial unit to start a research project on volumetric analysis of cleft palate patients (IRB approved and under review by the OCS department). The department also has two pending research projects involving Artificial Intelligence (AI), one in AI-assisted Cephalometric analysis and the other AI-assisted Cone Beam segmentation.

New Orthodontic Research with Cleft Palate Patients and AI


and Dentofacial Orthopedics has partnered with the Children’s Mercy Hospital craniofacial unit to start a research project on volumetric analysis of cleft palate patients (IRB approved and under review by the OCS department). The department also has two pending research projects involving Artificial Intelligence (AI), one in AI-assisted Cephalometric analysis and the other AI-assisted Cone Beam segmentation.

Interim Program Director Named

SIMON MACNEILL, D.D.S., professor, Department of Periodontics, has been named interim program director of Advanced Periodontics. Mabel Salas, D.D.S., served as the previous program director and left the school to pursue private practice. MacNeill is the recipient of the Elmer Pierson Good teaching award in recognition of his contributions. This is his second tenure as program director.

New Orthodontic Research with Cleft Palate Patients and AI

THE DEPARTMENT OFORTHODONTICS and Dentofacial Orthopedics has partnered with the Children’s Mercy Hospital craniofacial unit to start a research project on volumetric analysis of cleft palate patients (IRB approved and under review by the OCS department). The department also has two pending research projects involving Artificial Intelligence (AI), one in AI-assisted Cephalometric analysis and the other AI-assisted Cone Beam segmentation.