These Student Dentists Are Passionate About Oral Health

Tuesday, November 14, 2023
These Student Dentists Are Passionate About Oral Health

The 2023 fall semester at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine is flying by. It’s been especially busy for third- and fourth-year student dentists treating patients at Penn Dental Medicine (PDM), the school’s teaching clinic.

Get to know these three members of PDM’s Class of 2025. One of them may be caring for your oral health the next time you visit our dental clinic!

Kendra Domotor’s Song-Filled ‘Scenic Route’ to Dental School

Kendra Domotor says she took the “scenic route” to dental school.

The self-professed “quintessential music and theater nerd” at her high school, Domotor earned her bachelor’s in vocal and opera performance from Ithaca College. However, a career detour into the fitness industry led her to discover her strong affinity with healthcare professionals, including dentists.

Domotor enrolled in a post-baccalaureate premedical program at Harvard University. Given her classical voice training, she planned to specialize in otolaryngology—treatment of the ears, nose, throat, and related structures in the head and neck.

She was surprised to learn oral and maxillofacial surgery residents first go to dental school. When she shadowed a nearby general dentist, she felt tremendous excitement. “I was hooked on dentistry from that point on,” she says.

Domotor says she loves the “hustle and bustle” at PDM. She appreciates the faculty’s expert guidance. She finds patients’ gratitude “humbling” when she helps relieve their pain and restore their smiles.

Does she think her patients would be surprised to learn she’s a trained classical opera singer? “I have to admit many would probably not be,” she says, “given my often sing-songy chatter amidst the operatories!”

Allie Schroeder’s Passion for Public Health

A college challenge to design an intervention for a public health issue affecting college students led Allie Schroeder to work with oral health literacy researcher Dr. Alice Horowitz.

“At the time,” Schroeder recalls, “Dr. Horowitz’s research centered on the oral health of pregnant mothers. Upon learning about the profound impact poor oral health could have on their children’s health, I began to appreciate how crucial oral health was to people’s overall health.”

Recognizing the challenges many populations have accessing oral healthcare, Schroeder decided to be part of the solution. She is at PDM as a National Health Service Scholar. She will practice general dentistry in federally qualified health centers after graduation.

“Many of my future patients will be from underserved communities,” says Schroeder. “I am most interested in learning how to best meet their needs, especially those of young adults. I see a lot of elderly people who wish they had taken better care of their teeth and not waited to seek treatment. I want to engage young adults in their oral healthcare so they may preserve their teeth.”

Schroeder finds being one of PDM’s student dentists rewarding because dentistry can bring patients immediate relief and improve their quality of life.

“I have spent the past summer restoring every mandibular tooth for one of my patients,” she says. “They told me they had forgotten what it was like to bite into a sandwich without feeling pain until now.”

Payton Whyne’s Recipe for Creative Cosmetic Dentistry

Growing up in nearby Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, Payton Whyne always enjoyed visiting Philadelphia. She was thrilled to come to PDM. From the moment she arrived, she’s felt PDM faculty, staff, and fellow students genuinely want to see her succeed.

Whyne is pursuing cosmetic dentistry as her specialty. “It is a sector of dentistry that allows my
creative and artistic side to flourish,” she explains, “while ensuring my patients feel confident with their smile.”

Whyne has seen firsthand how patients benefit from receiving treatment at a dental school that takes patients. Two- to four-hour appointment slots mean dental students have “ample time” to address patients’ questions and concerns. Because faculty guides and checks students’ work at multiple points, patients know they’re getting care of the highest quality. And, having a wide range of dental specialties in-house means PDM’s student dentists can easily refer patients for any additional treatment needed.

When not in the dental clinic, Whyne enjoys baking. She sees some intriguing parallels to her chosen profession.

“In baking, like dentistry,” she says, “there are several specific ingredients and tools needed to create a perfect product. There are steps taken in a specific order, and a high level of attention to detail is needed. I love the transformation [both] baking and dentistry can yield. Plus, both can produce an equally happy smile.”

Get Quality Dental Care at a Discount at Penn Dental

Whether you work with Domotor, Schroeder, Whyne, or another of our exceptional student dentists when you visit PDM, you’ll get comprehensive, patient-friendly care, supervised by experienced dentists.

You’ll also pay far less for dental services than you would at most private practices. And if you’re a University of Pennsylvania student without dental insurance, your current and valid student ID entitles you to additional discounts on preventative care and specialty services. Download this flyer to find out more.

You can also schedule your appointment at PDM online or call us at 215-898-8965.

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