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First Dental Prosthodontics Class Graduating– New Dentists Ready to Serve!

Why Seek Dental Prosthodontics Care?

In June 2020, we will have our first graduating class of our new prosthodontists program! Penn Dental Medicine is home to the only graduate prosthodontics program offered in the city of Philadelphia. To put that in perspective: there are about 195,722 general dentists in the country, as compared to only 3,500 prosthodontists! That means there are about 56 dentists for every one prosthodontist.

Dental prosthodontics is a specialty that focuses on the restoring and replacing of teeth. If you suffer from chipped, broken, or missing teeth, a prosthodontist can help. While general dentists have training in these procedures, a prosthodontist is equipped with advanced techniques and knowledge. A prosthodontist has completed dental school plus an additional three years of training in a CODA-accredited prosthodontic graduate program. 

Featuring Our Recent Graduates 

The class of 2020 will be the first to graduate from the new prosthodontics program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Below, we’ve included profiles from two of our prosthodontist graduates, where they reflect on their experience at Penn and where they hope to utilize their skills in the coming years: 

Faisal Al-Hussainy, DDS 

Man points to his perfect set of teeth.I graduated from the University of Baghdad College of Dentistry in Iraq in 2012. I then pursued higher education in the U.S. After passing both parts of the National Board Dental Examination, I enrolled in an externship program at the University of Illinois in Chicago for one year. While there, I participated in two research projects, one of which was with Indiana University at the Oral Health Research Institute. 

In 2017, I was accepted into the prosthodontic residency program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and I am in the first graduating class. During my three-year residency, I presented posters and presentations on a national level and won first place for Research Day at Penn Dental Medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania has a stellar reputation in dental practice as well as research. Prosthodontics was always my first choice and long-term goal because I can blend my passion for art and science. As a resident, I was fortunate enough to be a provider for ultimate health care plans, which means I could serve Medicare patients. Since I spent so much time with my patients, I built long-term relationships with them and they became like family.

In addition, I had the chance to work as part of an interdisciplinary team with other departments at Penn Dental Medicine, the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Because the program was new and designed to be small, this encouraged one-on-one learning experiences. Philadelphia is a big, diverse city, which has meant an abundance of patients from different backgrounds, all of which I have enjoyed treating.

Stephen Cross, DDS

I knew I wanted to be a dentist from an early age. It wasn’t until I became a dental student that I knew I wanted to be a prosthodontist. Looking back, I’m amazed that a young teenager from the beautiful island of Jamaica who decided that he wanted to be a dentist has been able to realize that dream– and will now graduate as a prosthodontist.

Prosthodontics is the only specialty that makes sense for me and I am proud to be entering this prestigious and rewarding field. Earning my Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Maryland in Baltimore was one of my proudest accomplishments thus far. I am excited to return to the state I call home with the skills required to start a career as a successful prosthodontist.

Visiting a Prosthodontist at Penn Dental Medicine

With our deeply reduced costs and access to faculty experts, Penn Dental Medicine offers a unique opportunity to patients who require more complex dental care. We offer dental services for a variety of conditions: 

Tooth replacement

Dental implants are highly recommended thanks to their longevity and effectiveness. The procedure consists of placing an artificial root (anchor) in the gum, which fuses to the jaw naturally. A prosthetic tooth that looks and feels like your other teeth is then placed on the anchor. 

Full or partial dentures offer another option for people who are not candidates for dental implants. Dentures are removable frames that contain artificial teeth, which prevent your other teeth from shifting into the empty space.

Dental restorations

A restoration is a way for the dentist to replace or repair missing parts of the tooth structure. Tooth structure may be missing due to decay, a fracture, or deterioration of a previous restoration. 

Fillings are the most common type of restoration, and are used to restore a tooth damaged by decay. The decayed material is removed, cleaned, and replaced with a filling material made of gold, silver, amalgam, or composite resin. Crowns are often used in conjunction with fillings. A tooth-shaped “cap” is placed over the tooth to hold its shape, size, and appearance. 

Cosmetic dentistry

While any dentist can say they are a cosmetic dentist, a prosthodontist is the most qualified to perform procedures that improve both the appearance and function of teeth. We strongly advise anyone who is seeking cosmetic treatment to consider care with a prosthodontist.

Oral cancer treatment

The radiation therapy associated with oral cancer treatment can damage the bone and tissues of a patient’s mouth. Prosthodontists are expert practitioners in reconstruction, coordinating a multidisciplinary team of dental specialists to address the different aspects of treatment. Anyone who is preparing to undergo oral cancer radiation should visit with a prosthodontist beforehand to prepare a treatment plan.

Even if you’re not sure whether you need care from a prosthodontist, you can make an appointment to find out whether you could be a candidate for dental prosthodontics treatment. Our examination and screening process is free of charge, so we encourage you to take advantage of this complimentary consultation! Slots are limited and demand is high due to the low number of prosthodontists in the Philadelphia area. To schedule your visit, please call us at 215-898-8965 or use our online appointment form

Teledentistry for PDM Patients

What Does Teledentistry Look Like in the Time of COVID-19?

The COVID-19 epidemic has changed the way we do healthcare dramatically, including dental services.  Penn Dental Medicine is rapidly expanding our telemedicine capacities to keep up with patients’ need for care while limiting person-to-person contact.

While we are unable to accept new patients at this time, PDM continues to offer services to patients of record through teledentistry appointments. In the future, we hope to extend this opportunity to new patients as well. With the progressive advances in telehealth technologies, we’re pleased to draw on our diagnostic and clinical expertise to provide our patients with quality care. 

What Is Teledentistry

Teledentistry falls under the category of telemedicine (or telemedicine in dentistry), which refers to a “virtual visit” that takes place via communications technology—usually with videoconferencing. A teledentistry visit consists of a meeting between a dentist and patient in regards to an oral health problem. 

Teledentistry allows the dentist to use electronic information and imaging technologies to provide dental diagnosis, treatment, and patient education. Virtual consultations make it possible for dentists to utilize many of the same clinical skills they would normally use in-person while bypassing the need for a physical visit. 

How Do I Get Care While Maintaining Privacy?

Male dentist in white coat holds a white cell phone to meet with a patient.PDM remains committed to the highest standards of patient privacy and care. In light of the unique difficulties associated with the COVID-19 emergency, HIPPA recently released guidelines that give more leeway to providers seeking to treat patients through telemedicine. During the COVID-19 crisis. Providers may use popular applications such as Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Zoom, or Google Hangouts video in order to meet with patients. 

Even as these applications facilitate greater access to telemedicine, providers must maintain the same high standards of privacy and confidentiality required under HIPPA. 

What Does Teledentistry Look Like at PDM? 

Though current restrictions do not permit dentists to see patients in person, we are using teledentistry to meet with patients virtually. 

Your teledentistry session will feel similar to a typical appointment, starting with questions about when you first began noticing symptoms and where. You may be asked to touch the affected area and describe how it feels. The dentist may ask you to capture an image by turning to the right and left in order to get a better view of the condition. 

Based on your history, images, and descriptions, your dentist will develop a treatment plan to manage the condition. You might be asked to purchase materials from a pharmacy, after which the dentist can guide you on how to place a temporary crown or how to smooth out a chipped tooth using an emery board. 

If an infection is involved, you may be prescribed an antibiotic or receive counseling on how to clean the area until it’s possible for you to come in for a procedure. Our dentists have a variety of tools at their disposal to help you treat and manage the condition until we can provide a more permanent solution.

What If I Have a Dental Emergency?

Some dental conditions qualify as emergencies and cannot be treated remotely. If your condition is deemed an emergency during your telehealth appointment, Penn Dental Medicine can perform an in-person emergency procedure

We strongly urge patients who believe they are experiencing an emergency to call us at 215-898-8965 (after hours: 215-898-8961) rather than visit an emergency room at this time. Going to the emergency room is not safe due to the influx of COVID-19 patients, and our dentists are better equipped to assess your condition and take action if necessary. 

Again, please do not hesitate to contact us at 215-898-8965 (after hours: 215-898-8961) with your concerns or to schedule a telehealth appointment.

Why Students Seek Affordable Dental Care in Philadelphia

What is one thing students never seem to have enough of, but often need? If you answered time or money — then you are right! At Penn Dental Medicine, we understand the challenges that can come with being a student. When considering where to receive timely and affordable dental care in Philadelphia, you need a solution that can accommodate both your calendar and pocketbook. 

Rather than throw caution to the wind by searching for “dentist near me”, you should take advantage of a wide variety of dental services and discounted rates available for students at the University of Pennsylvania. All of our services performed by student dentists are overseen by experienced, highly-skilled doctors, offering you safe and patient-centered care.

Why Students Choose Penn Dental Medicine for Dental Care in Philadelphia

What better way to ensure you get the dental care you need, without having to travel far or overextend your budget than by scheduling a visit with Penn Dental Medicine? Receive flexible, convenient dental care, including multiple dental services — all at one location. 

Take a look at several services we provide at Penn Dental Medicine:

  • General Dentistry
    Keep up on six-month check-ups and cleanings. Your dental specialist will also screen for oral cancer and address any questions or concerns you may have. 
  • Endodontics
    A Hispanic male dental student helps treat a young woman patient, while a female dental student with long brown hair examines an X-ray.Any treatment that helps resolve damage or infection of the tooth pulp (the soft tissue inside your tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue) can be addressed through endodontic care. An example of endodontic treatment that many people are familiar with is a root canal
  • Orthodontics
    When discussing orthodontics, it’s common to think about braces or Invisalign to straighten and improve your smile. And, while we certainly offer these types of orthodontic treatments at Penn Dental Medicine, we also correct problems associated with your jaw and bite alignment. 
  • Oral Surgery
    If you have issues with your wisdom teeth or a diseased tooth that requires removal, the procedure falls under the scope of oral surgery. In addition, any kind of dental trauma, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems, and tori removal (bone growth on the roof of the mouth, lower jaw, and upper molars) can be assisted with oral surgery.
  • Periodontics
    Periodontal dental specialists treat gum disease, including cosmetic periodontal procedures.  
  • Prosthodontics
    Crowns, bridges, dental implants, and dentures are examples of how prosthodontic specialists address missing and damaged teeth. Penn Dental Medicine’s renowned prosthodontic program happens to be the only one of its kind in the Philadelphia area.

Student Questions Regarding Dental Care 

While providing our dental patients with a host of services to maximize their oral health is a priority at Penn Dental Medicine, so is education. You should feel free to ask questions during your appointment to gain important insights on how to improve your dental health. 

Take a look at some of the common questions our student patients ask when it comes to Penn Dental Medicine and what we have to offer:

  • What if I don’t have dental insurance?
    Although we accept several forms of insurance, if your dental health is not covered by an insurance provider, we offer reasonable fees for services (as well as payment plans). As a University of Pennsylvania student, you can take advantage of special discounted dental service rates: 30% on general dentistry checkups and cleanings or a 20% discount on any specialty service (only applies for those who do not have insurance).
  • What if I have a dental emergency?
    The Penn Dental Medicine clinic offers emergency dental care Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm (excluding school holidays). 
  • Does Penn Dental Medicine offer any nutritional guidance?
    Yes! In fact, we recently published an eBook on the link between nutrition and oral health, “How Are Nutrition and Oral Health Connected?” Our student dentists and supervising faculty are always eager to discuss how to help you improve your dental health through proper nutrition. 
  • Can I get a discount on parking?
    Yes. Discounted parking is made available at The Fresh Grocer on 40th and Walnut streets.

If you are a University of Pennsylvania student, don’t wait to take advantage of our high-quality affordable dental care. Download your complimentary Student Discount Flyer and call us at 215-898-8965 if you have additional questions or simply click here if you’d like to schedule an appointment.

Top Five Mistakes Parents Make with Their Child’s Oral Health

Learn How to Optimize Your Child’s Oral Care by Avoiding a Few Common Mistakes

Have you ever wondered whether you’re doing all you can to promote your children’s oral health

Don’t fall victim to these five common mistakes that parents make regarding their child’s oral care:

1. Thinking Baby Teeth Aren’t Important 

Many parents assume that baby teeth don’t matter because they will fall out. The result is often not dedicating as much time or attention to their child’s oral hygiene. But baby teeth play a key role in your child’s health and development. They hold space in the mouth for the permanent teeth that are growing under the gums. 

When a baby tooth is lost prematurely, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space, making it harder for other adult teeth to emerge in the correct place. The outcome is often misaligned or crooked teeth that require orthodontic treatment.

Baby teeth are also necessary for chewing and speaking. An infected baby tooth can be very painful. It may cause swollen gums and throbbing pain, especially when your child chews. If left untreated for too long, an infected tooth can spread to the surrounding teeth and bones. As you can see, children’s oral health is very important to their overall happiness and wellbeing! 

2. Putting Baby to Bed with a Bottle

While it may make bedtime easier in the short run, putting your child to bed with a sippy cup or feeding bottle elevates the sugar levels in the mouth – and keeps it up for a long time. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is referred to as baby bottle tooth decay. Falling asleep while drinking milk or juice often leads to cavities. This is because the sugary liquid pools around the teeth, providing a place for bacteria to grow. It’s best to get your child in the habit of finishing any drink before bed. 

3. Letting Your Child Brush Without Help 

Most children don’t have the motor skills necessary for proper brushing until they are eight years old. And even eight-year-olds are more likely to brush correctly if their parent is in the room with them. Take the time to brush and then teach your child the proper techniques to prevent cavities

Brushing should take at least two minutes and cover all the surfaces of the teeth. One way to help your child build the habit have brushing-teeth sessions in front of the mirror. This enables your little one to watch, and then practice brushing independently. As children get older, you can step away a bit and inspect the brushing.

4. Packing “Healthy” Juice for Lunch

While most parents are aware that soda should be a rare treat, did you know that so-called “healthy” juices are packed full of sugar and citric acid? Fruit juices deliver a much higher concentration of sugar as compared to a normal serving of fruit. The sugars that remain in the mouth after drinking juice feed harmful bacteria and trigger more bacterial growth. The citric acid in fruit juices erodes the tooth enamel, which further weakens the teeth. This combination puts the teeth at a much greater risk for cavity development. 

5. Avoiding Dental Visits or not Visiting the Dentist Often Enough

Female dentist teaches a father how to brush his little girl’s teeth who is sitting on her dad’s lap, dressed in yellow.It’s easy to put off your child’s bi-annual dental visit, but these appointments are an important part of your child’s oral health and development. Your pediatric dentist will provide a professional cleaning to remove plaque from the teeth, leaving them shiny and clean. Even if you are diligent about brushing twice a day, a professional cleaning is needed because only a dentist can remove all plaque buildup. 

These appointments also make it possible for the dentist to check your child’s teeth and oral development. If a cavity is found, in many cases the dentist can apply a fluoride gel or varnish, which does two things:

  • Prevents further mineral loss in tooth enamel by remineralizing the teeth.
  • Reduces the ability of bacteria to produce acid. 

By making regular appointments at the dentist, you’ll help your child to avoid developing painful conditions while promoting optimal health in their teeth and gums

“First Five” at Penn Dental Medicine 

Thanks to a $1.53 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, Penn Dental Medicine has announced its First Five program focusing on children’s oral health under age five. Penn is one of only 11 dental schools nationwide to receive the federal grant, which includes a curriculum with a holistic approach to pediatric dentistry. 

Many rural and urban areas of the country are experiencing a shortage of pediatric dentists. Pediatric care often falls to general dentists in these cases. The First Five program allows Penn Dental Medicine to equip all our student dentists with clinical experience working with children under the age of five. For parents looking for affordable care, this means that more slots are available for pediatric dentistry appointments. All dental visits are overseen by our expert pediatric dental faculty members. 

If you are seeking a reputable provider of pediatric dentistry, we encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to access reasonably-priced care at one of the nation’s leading institutions. To schedule an appointment for your child, please give us a call at 215-898-8965. 

Q & A: Restorative Dental Care with Dr. David Hershkowitz

Learn About PDM’s Unique Approach to Restorative Dentistry

We recently had the chance to interview Dr. David Hershkowitz, Penn Dental Medicine’s newest restorative dental care provider. Dr. Hershkowitz is board certified and NYS-licensed in general anesthesia and parenteral sedation. Below, you’ll find the details about how Dr. Herkowitz came to practice general dentistry, why he loves being at Penn Dental Medicine, and what brings patients to seek restorative care. 

1. Can you tell us a little about your background?

Headshot of Dr. HershkowitzI would describe myself as a family man, first and foremost. I’ve been married to my beautiful wife Cindy for thirty-three years. I have three grown children, Alan, Julie, and Nicole, who continue to amaze me to this day. And I’m from New York.

Professionally, I went to college and graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a bachelor’s of science in health science. That’s also where I got my certificate in anesthesia as an Anesthesia Assistant (Certified Anesthesia Assistant Program). The certification gave me a level equivalent to a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Assistant) in 14 different states. 

I spent the last 18 months of my undergraduate career in a hospital doing different types of anesthesia training with medical doctors and residents. Then I went on to the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, which is where I decided to combine my dental degree with my training in anesthesia. I went into an anesthesia residency program at the Hospital of Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia back in 1986. 

I combined my anesthesia training with general dentistry in my private practice for 27 years. During this time I was wanting to teach young doctors, so I became a part-time faculty member at the State University of Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine. I covered their clinic and helped the students see patients. Eventually I was asked to run the fourth year predoctoral dental clinical program, which I did for about eight years. I also acted as the Director of Urgent Care, which is also known as emergency services.

Before I left Stony Brook, I was made Director of Anesthesia to help bring the institution into compliance to train residents in the certification program. In 2008, I went to NYU as the Associate Chairman of the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care. My responsibilities included predoctoral, clinical education, and the management of the faculty in the department. I did that for a number of years while maintaining my private practice, until I sold it about four years ago.

This October, I became Associate Professor of Clinical Dentistry and Chief of the Division of Restorative Dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. 

2. What motivated you to pursue dentistry and, in particular, your specialty?

For me it became quite simple once I was working in anesthesia at Case Western Reserve University. Not many people in the world are able to relieve someone’s physical pain and restore their confidence at the same time. 

When you see a person walk into the room with a beautiful, big smile, it just brightens up the place! I realized that I wanted to help people attain a smile that emanates confidence and alleviates discomfort. My anesthesia training combined with general dentistry allowed me to do both, which is why I decided to go into general dentistry.

3. For readers who might not be familiar with general dentistry, what makes this different from other dental specialties?

General dentistry refers to both management and the procedures we perform to keep patients’ mouths healthy and functional. General dentistry includes preventive measures to ensure oral health as well as restorative care — implants, crowns, fillings, etc. 

Restorative care is aimed at improving the overall function and appearance of one’s smile and can lead to cosmetic dentistry procedures when desired.

4. How have you seen your specialty change since you began practicing general dentistry?

The field has changed, as most things have in medical and dental care since I entered the field. It used to be that any kind of decay was treated by picking up the drill to intervene surgically. Over the years, we stopped doing that. Now we have minimally-invasive dentistry. Cariology and cariogenesis have come to the forefront of dentistry treatment. We use remineralization techniques; we know how to use dental implants to replace missing teeth instead of placing fixed bridges. 

Cosmetic dentistry has blossomed. There are so many ways to enhance people’s smiles and instill confidence. And now, digital dentistry. You can scan the mouth to make a prosthesis; you can use a 3-D printer to fabricate what the patient needs right in the office rather than taking old-fashioned impressions.

Digital dentistry is changing the entire way we practice and is becoming a standard of care. Now you can just scan the mouth. An hour and a half later, you place the prosthesis and it’s all done. 

 5. What is the favorite part of your work?

For me it’s not the procedures; my favorite part is the relationships I form with my patients. You can start out treating one person and then years later you’re treating their children. 

I stayed in general dentistry for that family atmosphere. When you get to know patients over a quarter of a century, you become a part of their lives. So when they come in for treatment, you discuss the kids’ birthdays, the ball game, etc. It’s a real privilege when another human being allows you to take care of them. Only a handful of people in the world get to do this. 

With our student dentists at Penn, the work is all about helping them to become doctors. I don’t just mean professionals who work in the mouth. I’m talking about holistic doctors who have empathy and confidence, and possess that special something that the public wants them to have. When our student dentists become doctors, we hope that the way they treat and care for patients will affect the entire profession. 

6. What originally brought you to Penn Dental?

The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine is one of only three Ivy league dental schools in the country. That’s out of a total of 66 accredited schools in the United States and Canada. 

It’s a chance to be a part of a team of faculty, staff, and students who believe that taking care of our patients with clinical excellence begins with an excellent clinical education. Serving as a faculty member at Penn is a way to have an impact on the entire dental profession and make a difference in the community and even the world.

7. What makes Penn Dental unique?

Our dean is a widely recognized leader and researcher. We attract the brightest minds in faculty and students alike. Because of this, Penn Dental Medicine is a leader in patient care and dental education right now.

8. How would potential patients know they need to seek out general dental treatment?

You know that saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? It couldn’t be truer. You shouldn’t wait until something goes wrong. Everyone should seek out dental care and visit their dentist for preventive purposes. 

When there’s a problem you’re unhappy and you know something’s wrong, so you go to seek out treatment. But prevention is really the key. You shouldn’t wait. It’s like going to your physician to get a physical each year, or getting the vaccine for the flu. By going to the dentist on a regular basis, you can prevent the disease process from starting.  

The Dalai Lama once said that happiness is the highest form of health. And you’re happy when you’re not sick. Hence, prevention.

9. What is something fun about you that your patients might not know?

You wouldn’t know it now, but back as a teen I used to study martial arts. I took a form of karate that kept me in shape and helped me gain confidence. I actually won a national championship in fighting form when I was 14 years old. I went to a tournament and won four out of five matches and was a national champion in the union division. I still have the trophy to this day!

10. What final advice or words of wisdom would you offer to readers?

I’m very excited about being here. Every day I wake up happy to go to work. I’d like to encourage people to come visit us at PDM. You will surely find (as I have) that our staff is friendly and eager to help you. 

Our students strive to deliver the best patient care, all of which is overseen by the most prestigious doctors in the world. There’s no better place to seek oral health care advice, maintenance, and treatment. You shouldn’t have to wait until something goes wrong. You should come before that can happen. 

Restorative Dental Care at Penn Dental Medicine 

If you’re seeking superior quality dentistry at affordable prices, then look no further than Penn Dental Medicine. We offer general dentistry services that range from preventive to restorative care.

All procedures are performed by student dentists who are overseen by our experienced faculty members, such as Dr. Hershkowitz. If it’s been awhile since you’ve come in for your annual dental visit, we invite you to make an appointment by calling 215-898-8965. You can also learn more about the affordability of our comprehensive care by downloading our eBook on the subject!