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Full Circle Alum Draws on Personal Experience to Tackle Community Needs




Word of Mouth is produced biannually by the Georgia Regents University College of Dental Medicine in collaboration with the Office of Communications and Marketing.

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DEPARTMENTS News Bites............................ 2 Student Bites....................... 3

Advancement Update................................. 24

Student Voice.....................6

Alumni Bites...................... 25

Faculty Bites...................... 10

Opened Wide Interim Dean Carol A. Lefebvre, DDS, MS Provost Gretchen B. Caughman, PhD GRU Senior Vice President, Office of Communications and Marketing David Brond College of Dental Medicine Communications Manager Donna Bellino Editor Christine Hurley Deriso



Art, Design and Production P.J. Hayes Design Photographer Phil Jones Writers Christine Hurley Deriso LaTina Emerson

Family Day 2013.............................................................................................4 Students’ Families Tour Campus New Journey.....................................................................................................7 Interim Dean Lauds Strong Core, Bright Future Leaving Their Mark......................................................................................8 Class Gift to Enhance Clinical Experience for Patients, Students Dry Mouth Relief............................................................................................11 Green Tea Research Yields Moisturizing Lozenges A Heart for Service......................................................................................12 Students Log Thousands of Volunteer Hours An Exceedingly Bright Future............................................................18 Hooding Speaker Urges Graduates to Embrace ‘Awesome Opportunities’

Georgia Regents University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran status, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation in its programs and activities

Full Circle............................................................................................................20 Alum Draws on Personal Experience to Tackle Community Needs

as required by Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other application statutes and university policies. ©2013 Georgia Regents University


fr o m the

I N T E R I M dean Dr. Carol Lefebvre

Dear Readers, IT’S THE START of a new academic year and a new



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journey for us all. I’m excited to be beginning it with you! Although none of us knows how long the Interim Dean position will last, rest assured that with your support, I will cultivate ways for us to communicate more effectively both internally and externally, strengthen our faculty and staff development, and engage our students with a College of Dental Medicine social media presence. Of course, I am also delighted to now play a pivotal role in our flagship communications medium and the one that links alumni, students, faculty, and friends: Word of Mouth. This is a particularly exciting time as we watch another building go up next to ours: the J. Harold Harrison, MD Education Commons, which will house our classrooms and make interdisciplinary education with our colleagues a reality. The College of Dental Medicine has a strong core and a bright future. We have achieved amazing growth already, and we can be proud of the 40-year history we have of educating dentists for the state of Georgia and in regions beyond our state borders. Thank you for all you do to make this a great place for students to learn, for patients to receive care, for educators to teach, for scientists to conduct research, and for people to work. Challenges no doubt lie ahead, but I am looking forward to keeping us moving in an upward direction. n

For more information about the Interim Dean, see page 7.




news bites LOOKING THE PART The College of Dental Medicine hosted its annual White Coat Ceremony July 12, presenting coats to rising sophomores signifying their immersion in the clinical portion of their curriculum. Dr. Bruce Ashendorf, Vice Regent of the Georgia Section of International College of Dentists, was the guest speaker. n

ADVANCING DIVERSITY Stephanie Perry, Director of Student Admissions, has been elected National Membership Chairwoman of the National Association of Medical Minority Inc. The organization cultivates relationships to ensure racial and ethnic diversity in the health professions. Perry will serve a two-year term. n

MILITARY-FRIENDLY Georgia Regents University has been named a 2014 Military Friendly School by Victory Media, a global military media firm. The honor recognizes the top 15 percent of institutions in terms of embracing U.S. military service members, veterans, and spouses as students and ensuring their success on campus. Campus services include GRU’s Military Resource Center, a one-stop shop for service members and their families, helping process veteran benefits and transition into the college environment. Victory Media, a veteran-owned business and publisher of G.I. Jobs and the Guide to Military Friendly Schools, surveyed more than 12,000 schools for this research. For the complete list of Military Friendly Schools, visit militaryfriendlyschools.com. n

DERMATOLOGY PARTNERSHIP The Department of Oral Health and Diagnostic Sciences has established a relationship with the Medical College of Georgia enabling dermatology residents to rotate with oral medicine and pathology faculty during their clinical practice hours to learn about complex oral mucosal disease, orofacial pain, and salivary gland disorders. n


SERVICE WITH A SMILE Forty-one College of Dental Medicine students, faculty, and staff rolled up their sleeves for the 2013 GRU Day of Service Sept. 14. The volunteers served community organizations including the Aiken County Animal Shelter, Christ Community Health Services, the Columbia County Food Pantry, the CSRA Humane Society, Family Y Augusta, Golden Harvest Food Bank, Goodwill Augusta, Heritage Academy, Mistletoe State Park, and Augusta’s Ronald McDonald House. The dental contingency accounted for 15 percent of all GRU Day of Service volunteers. n

S T U D E N T bites MISSION OF MERCY College of Dental Medicine students and faculty participated in the second Georgia Mission of Mercy event June 13-16 in Norcross, Ga. The event, sponsored by the Georgia Dental Association, provided oral health education and donated dental services valued at approximately $1.6 million for over 1,600 patients. The event was intended to raise awareness of access to dental care for low-income individuals. n

GOLFING FOR A CAUSE The GRU Chapter of the American Student Dental Association sponsored a golf tournament Oct. 2 at the Jones Creek Golf Club in Evans, Ga. The $45 entry fee benefited the association’s advocacy of issues related to dentistry and dental education. n



COMMITMENT TO ETHICS Second-year students Tara Brown, Michelle Paterson, and Nathan Raley have established a GRU chapter of the Student Professional and Ethics Association in Dentistry. The association promotes students’ lifelong commitment to ethical behavior. The chapter held its inaugural meeting on campus Sept. 5 with guest speaker Dr. Geraldine Ferris of the American College of Dentists discussing ethics in dentistry. n


SCHOLARSHIP FUNDING Seventy-two dental students received $233,848 in awards and scholarships from 33 funding sources during the College of Dental Medicine’s Welcome Back Assembly in August. Included were four new scholarships totaling $12,000 for eight students. Scholarship criteria include financial need, merit, research participation, and community service. n

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LOBBYING FOR DENTISTRY Nine students participated in National Lobby Day April 15 in Washington, D.C., where they met with legislators and attended presentations on topics related to the dental profession. The event was sponsored by the Georgia Dental Association. n



Members of the Class of 2017 welcomed their parents, grandparents, and other family members on campus Sept. 28 for GRU’s 2013 Family Day. Highlights included a barbecue lunch and a hands-on experience in the



Thomas P. Hinman Center for Lifelong Learning. n


Hinman Society Receives Gies Award THE HINMAN SOCIETY OF ATLANTA has received

education and the practice of dentistry. “The connection

the 2014 William J. Gies Award for Vision, Innovation and

between these two visionaries extends even further: The


American College of Dentists, of which Dr. Hinman was a

founding member, provided the seed money to establish

University, was founded by now-deceased Atlanta dental

the Gies Foundation,” she wrote. “Together, these two

pioneer Thomas P. Hinman. It has more than 800 dentist

pioneers set the bar for the future of dental education.”

members statewide and attracts nearly 23,000 dentists

and dental professionals each year at its annual meeting.

from the Hinman Society’s generosity to the GRU

The society has donated more than $1 million to the

College of Dental Medicine, including an endowed chair,

College of Dental Medicine, most of which is used for

three full-tuition scholarships annually, an educational


programming endowment, and an annual continuing

education fellows program. “And that is for our institution only,” she adds. “It does not even include

exemplifying the highest standards of vision, innovation,

the scholarships, endowed chairs, professorships, and

and achievement in dental education, research, and

educational support to many of our sister institutions.”

leadership. Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products,

Interim Dean Carol A. Lefebvre expressed deep pride

Division of McNEIL-PPC Inc., is the premier sponsor.

and appreciation for the Hinman Society’s longtime

The award will be presented March 17 at the 2014

affiliation with GRU, noting, “It is partners like this that

American Dental Education Association Annual Session

optimize our mission and ensure our excellence in

& Exhibition in San Antonio. The honorees were selected

education, research, and patient care. As the state of

by members of the ADEAGies Foundation Board of

Georgia’s sole dental school, we are privileged to help


fulfill the vision of pioneers like Drs. Gies and Hinman. No

one in the country has gone untouched by the advances

“As a [Georgia Regents University College of Dental

Medicine] faculty member, a member of the American

they set in motion.”

Dental Education Association, and a member of the

Hinman Dental Society, I am in an ideal position to see

leadership of men like Dr. Gies and Dr. Hinman in

firsthand how the society is an integral partner in oral

the early 20th century, and the continually evolving

health education through its support of not only our

innovation demonstrated by the Hinman Dental Society,

institution but many others as well,” wrote Dr. Carole M.

this nomination could not be made.”

Hanes, Associate Dean for Students, Admissions, and

Alumni, in her nomination letter.

Hinman Dental Society is all about dental education—for

our future colleagues in the oral health professions and

She noted that Gies and Hinman were contemporaries

Hanes concurred, adding, “Without the visionary

Simply stated, she wrote in her nomination letter, “The

for lifelong learning opportunities for all who practice.” n

who shared many of the same philosophies on dental

William J. Gies (February 21, 1872 - May 20, 1956) was a Columbia University biochemistry professor interested in dental education, science, and clinical applications. In 1926, Dr. Gies published a landmark report that established the importance of dentistry as a healing science and an essential component of higher education in the health professions. Although, there have been many other reports, the The Gies report remains the most relevant survey of dental education in the field.


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William J. Gies, honors individuals and organizations


The Gies Awards, named for dental education pioneer

Hanes cited the wellspring of benefits resulting


The society, a longtime supporter of Georgia Regents




student v o ice JACKIE DELASH, Class of ’15

Having Faith in Your Work “All the rivets have to stay in formation for the flight to be successful.”

AS I ENTERED sophomore clinic anticipating my first operative patient, my anxiety and nervousness reached a crescendo and my sweat glands responded accordingly. After all the lessons, lectures, “Bob Bobberson” simulated restorations, and guidance the school could give me, the time had come to put my novice skills to the test. Reassuring my unsuspecting patient that “I had done this before” (just not on a real person), I reclined her and set her up for what I prayed would be her only carpule of lidocaine necessary for anesthesia. My mind endlessly repeated the steps to complete successful restoration: administering anesthesia, placing a rubber dam and clamp, removing decay, establishing mechanical retention, proximal and occlusal contacts, etc. Somewhere between designing the preparation and beginning the restoration, I was reminded of a time my father had asked me to assist him on one of his endless projects. He needed help rebuilding the wings to a Cessna 182. Little did I know how similar the design of dental preparations would be to repairing the wings of an aircraft. My father asked me to help him “buck rivets.” Completely unfamiliar with the term, I warily agreed. As I entered the workshop, I saw him evaluating an elevated airplane wing while he gave me quick instructions on how to put the wing back together. For those who are as unfamiliar as I was, bucking rivets means setting a rivet in place. A rivet is essentially a metal pin with a head on one end and a shank on the other that is placed through a hole between two pieces of metal. When the head is compressed against a device called a bucking bar on the shank side, the shank has nowhere to go and expands outward, forming another head. These two heads on either side act as a fastener and hold the piece of metal tightly together. Riveting information, I know. My father handed me the bucking bar, and with the rivet drill in his hand, we started to rebuild the aircraft wing. In that afternoon, I learned more than I expected about aircraft structures and what it takes to defy gravity . . . all the nuances of technique, procedures, and standards, and the acceptable rivet placement and diameter. At the end of the day, my father and I shared a proud moment reflecting on the quality of our finished product. Although our day was not without error and redo’s, the wing was functional once again! Years later, when flying in the plane I helped rebuild, I would think about the times we bucked rivets and have faith that our work will last for many more years. As my father likes to say, “All the rivets have to stay in formation for the flight to be successful,” much like a successful operative procedure, which takes proper technique, knowledge, and standards. Our dental education teaches us that, among other things, a restoration needs proper form and function to succeed. Prior to entering sophomore clinic, we were told that we would never forget our first patients. No simulation or lecture can completely prepare us for our first real patient encounters, but by pausing to take a deep breath and reflect on our lessons, I was able to leave my first patient with an esthetically pleasing and functional restoration that put a smile on both our faces. Our course and lab work may often seem challenging and cause frustration and stress, but the reward of a patient’s satisfaction and a quality procedure pay dividends and remind us of why we are working so hard to become dentists. Keep up the hard work and never lose sight of the smiles you will bring to so many faces over our careers. n


New Journey


Interim Dean Lauds Strong Core and Bright Future DR. CAROL A. LEFEBVRE, Vice Dean of the College of Dental Medicine, has been named the college’s Interim Dean. Lefebvre is serving as a search process to replace former Dean Connie Drisko is underway. Drisko, who served as Dean for a decade, transitioned into a new role at GRU in June. (See page 24.) “It’s the start of a new journey for the College of Dental Medicine,” Lefebvre said. “I am committed to engaging our alumni, students, faculty, staff, and other

Lefebvre received her Doctor of Dental Surgery and Master of Science degrees in Prosthodontics from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. She is the co-principal investigator on the $6.2 million Nobel Biocare/GRU Center of Excellence grant, a research, clinical, and educational grant related to implants and esthetic dentistry. She served as Editor-in-Chief for The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry for nine years after serving four years as the Associate Editor.


Lefebvre is a recipient of the College of Dental Medicine’s Excellence in Teaching and Outstanding Faculty Member Awards. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Prosthodontics; a Fellow of the Academy of Prosthodontics, American College of Prosthodontists, and Pierre Fauchard Academy; and a member of Omicron Kappa Upsilon, Phi Kappa Phi, and the Hinman Dental Society. She was a fellow in the 2005-06 Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program, and was recently honored by the American Academy of Fixed Prosthodontics, which named its Scientific Poster Award in honor of her tenure as Editor. n


supporters as we forge an incredible future. In addition to working statewide and beyond to reach out to those who can help advance our mission, we recently hosted a leadership retreat and first-ever staff retreat—two of many initiatives to make people feel more invested than ever in our progress. So many exciting things are unfolded in the College of Dental Medicine.” Lefebvre’s goals include optimizing internal and external communication, strengthening faculty and staff development, and engaging students via social media. A Professor of Oral Rehabilitation and Oral Biology for 17 years, she also served the college as Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and Faculty Affairs after teaching.


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“I’m looking forward to keeping us moving in an upward direction.”


Leaving Their Mark BY LATINA EMERSON


Class Gift to Enhance Clinical Experience for Patients, Students

IT HAS BECOME tradition for the College of Dental Medicine’s senior class to present a class gift to the college upon graduation. Previous gifts have included plaques, paintings, and contributions to the building fund. The Class of 2013 wanted its senior class gift to be meaningful and have a lasting impact for future dental students. After using the Isolite, a relatively new dental device that can reduce procedure times, during their senior clinical rotations, the vote for the class gift was almost unanimous: The 65-member class raised $11,000 to purchase Isolites for the college’s dental clinics. “When we were freshmen, we started saving money toward a class gift each semester,” said Dr. Trent Herring, Treasurer for the Class of 2013 and now a resident in the General Practice Residency and Advanced Education in General Dentistry program in the College of Dental Medicine. “We didn’t really know what it would be yet, but every year,


clinic has only three Isolites available for the entire class. Dr. Ben Popple, President of the Class of 2013 and now a dental resident in Connecticut, was particularly pleased with the choice of class gift. “At the end of our four years, we really gave a gift we wanted to give,” Popple said. “We wanted to give something that the students could truly benefit from. We thought [Isolites] would have the most impact. There’s a shortage of assistants in the dental school, and it’s a big step up from working by yourself or having your patient hold the suction. We felt like it gave students a more level playing field when they had more complex procedures to do, which happens a lot in senior clinic. We feel good about what we decided on.” n


“We wanted to give something that the students could truly benefit from. We felt like it gave students a more level playing field when they had more complex procedures to do, which happens a lot in senior clinic. We feel good about what we decided on.”

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“You pretty much have everything you need combined into one apparatus,” Herring said. “When you’re doing a dental procedure, you always want lighting, you want suction and you want something to hold the cheek back and hold the tongue in place. It just makes the procedure a lot faster and a lot cleaner. It’s user-friendly to the patient as well. They don’t have to try to hold their tongue to one side or hold their mouth open. Every one of us who had a chance to use it was so impressed with it. The class was pretty big on giving Isolites to the school because they helped us out so much.” Herring is working with a sales representative to purchase the Isolites, and he estimates the $11,000 raised can purchase 11 to 15 of the devices. Currently, the senior dental


we voted on how much we were going to put toward a class gift. We set aside some money from our own pocket each semester.” During their senior year, the classmates started discussing what they wanted the class gift to be. Their ideas had changed over the years, particularly with the new dental school building taking care of some previous needs. The Isolite is a patented mouthpiece that creates a wideopen, well-lit field for dentists performing dental work on patients. The disposable, plastic mouthpiece holds a patient’s tongue back while propping the mouth open. It is connected to suction and has an LED light source that lasts more than 10,000 hours, according to the product’s website. The Isolite can last for several years.

–DR. BEN POPPLE, President, Class of 2013



faculty bites Dr. Babak Baban, Assistant Professor of Oral Biology, has received a joint appointment with the Medical College of Georgia Section of Plastic Surgery. Dr. William Bachand has joined the Department of Oral Rehabilitation as an Associate Professor. Bachand recently retired from the U.S. Army after a three-year tour in Germany serving as Commander for the European Regional Dental Command. He previously held a teaching appointment in GRU’s General Practice Residency program.



Dr. Brian Bergeron, Associate Professor and Program Director in the Department of Endodontics, has been named to a four-year term to the Commission on Dental Accreditation Endodontics Review Committee. He will continue to serve as a site visitor. Dr. Scott De Rossi, Chairman of Oral Health and Diagnostic Sciences, served as guest editor for the July 2013 edition of Dental Clinics of North America. Dr. Connie Drisko, former Dean and current Special Assistant to the Senior Vice President of Advancement, will

receive the University of MissouriKansas City Alumni Association’s 2014 Alumni Achievement Award. Drs. Henry Ferguson and Solon Kao, Associate and Assistant Professors of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, respectively, co-directed the continuing education course, “Emergencies in Dentistry” at GRU in August. In September, Ferguson also was a Faculty and Table Instructor for the Academy of Osseointegration’s nursing continuing education course, “Principles of Craniomaxillofacial Trauma and Reconstruction for Operating Room Personnel” in Tampa, Fla. Dr. Wayne Herman has returned from retirement to serve part time in the Department of Oral Health and Diagnostic Sciences. Dr. Jae Seon Kim, Assistant Professor of Oral Rehabilitation, has been named a Diplomate of the American Board of Prosthodontics. Dr. Mario Romero has joined the Department of Oral Rehabilitation as an Assistant Professor.


Dr. Fred Rueggeberg, Professor of Oral Biology and Oral Rehabilitation, has received a grant of approximately $7,000 from Heraeus Kulzer International to study the in vitro intrapulpal temperature rise of two new diode lights. Drs. Tara Schafer, Associate Professor of Pediatric Dentistry and Oral Biology, and June Marukura, a pediatric dentistry resident, with Dental Assistant Beth Introcaso, recently provided dental examinations for 60-plus children at Waynesboro, Ga.’s Early Head Start Center. Dr. Mark Stevens, Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, was an external reviewer during the initial Accreditation of a Master of Science in Oral Surgery with Implant Dentistry site visit at the Maktoum Bin Hamdan Dental University College in Dubai. Dr. Van Haywood’s book, “ToothWhitening: Indications and Outcomes of Nightguard Vital Bleaching,” is available in Apple’s iBooks. Haywood is a Professor of Oral Rehabilitation.

Dry Mouth Relief

Capt. Mary S. Stuart, who is pursuing a master’s degree at GRU while completing a residency at the Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon, placed first in clinical research in the Southern Academy of Periodontology’s annual Billy M. Pennel Graduate Student Research Competition for research mentored by Hsu focused on the early detection and prevention of dry mouth.


mouth care, ReviTeaLize® hairthickening and anti-dandruff hair care, AverTeaX® cold sore/fever blister treatment, and SnooTeas® natural pet shampoo. In the pipeline are prescription drugs to treat or prevent genital herpes, shingles, and influenza. n



A COLLEGE OF Dental Medicine researcher has developed moisturizing lozenges for dry mouth and proposed a new theory about autoimmune diseases. Dr. Stephen Hsu, Professor of Oral Biology, has created the MighTeaFlow® lozenges with an all-natural green tea formula to treat dry mouth, adding to his growing line of green tea products. The lozenges will soon be available at camellix.com, dentaldepot.com and in select independent pharmacies. (For product information, call 888-483-7775). The lozenges contain the green tea compound EGCG (epigallocatechin-3gallate), which Hsu demonstrated can protect salivary glands and prevent or delay symptoms of xerostomia (dry mouth), which affects up to half of all elderly in the United States. The condition, an abnormal reduction in salivary flow, can be acutely uncomfortable and cause opportunistic infections. Hsu’s colleague, Dr. Scott De Rossi, conducted clinical tests of the lozenges. Hsu has documented numerous health benefits of green tea during decades of research and is currently studying its effects on Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that damages the glands that produce saliva and tears. Hsu is the founder of Camellix LLC, which develops and markets product lines under the trademarks of MighTeaFlow® dry



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Green Tea Research Yields Moisturizing Lozenges




A Heart for Service

Exceeding Expectations All dental students complete a community service course each year. Their academic studies keep them extremely busy, but they make time to complete their service hours, with many students exceeding expectations, said Dr. Carole Hanes, Associate Dean for Students, Admissions, and Alumni in the GRU College of Dental Medicine and Faculty Advisor for Give a Smile. “They’re committed to providing a level of community service throughout their four years here,” Hanes said. “We feel that dentists are going to be servant leaders in the community, and we want them to have experienced those types of community service commitments while they’re



WHEN THEY’RE NOT hitting the books or hard at work on patients’ teeth in the dental clinics, GRU dental students can frequently be found giving back to the local community through service. During the 2012-13 academic year, student organizations in the College of Dental Medicine received top awards at GRU for their service efforts. Dentists for Della, which provides free dental care to Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home residents, received the Horizon Award as the university’s best new student organization. Give a Smile, a student-run charitable organization that subsidizes costs for select dental patients, received the Leave a Trace Award for excellent community service. Last school year, GRU’s freshman, sophomore, and junior dental students logged just under 7,000 hours of community service, according to DeVona Eastman, Administrative Assistant in the college’s Office for Students, Admissions, and Alumni. Senior dental students spent six to eight weeks providing service in public health clinics statewide and made an international impact by providing dental care in the college’s dental clinic in Cusco, Peru.


Dental Students Log Thousands of Volunteer Hours

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Dentists for Della Dentists for Della began in 2011 to provide oral hygiene care to residents of Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home in Augusta. The program honors the late Dr. Victor Della-Guistina, a founding faculty member of the College of Dental Medicine and community dentist who was committed to improving access to dental care for Georgia residents. Dentists for Della was created by former dental students Chris DeLeon, Ryan Fulchi, Ross Levine, and William Bennett. Monthly visits to GWVNH began in January 2010 before the organization was officially chartered. Each month, 20 to 40 dental students provide basic oral hygiene and denture care to nursing home residents, and the program was recently expanded to include free weekly basic dental treatment. “Dentists for Della has blossomed into a program where we raise money to provide free dental treatment to the veterans,” said Dr. Katharine Ciarrocca, Faculty Advisor for Dentists for Della and Assistant Professor in the Department of Oral Rehabilitation. “It’s a program that dental students in all four years can participate in at some level. We’ve recently had some dental hygiene students ask to be involved as well.” In January, the College of Dental Medicine started a new weekly rotation providing basic dental treatment to the nursing home residents at no cost. Last spring, dental students provided nearly $5,700 worth of free dental treatment. “Dentists for Della partnered with the nursing home because its residents generally do not have dental insurance or other oral health care benefits and do not regularly see a dentist,” said Ciarrocca. “Dexterity can also be impaired in the elderly population, so tasks such as brushing teeth or cleaning dentures can be difficult or impossible. In addition, residents cannot easily be transported to a dental office because of factors such as impaired mobility or inability to afford transportation.” The GRU Horizon Award is presented to a new student organization that has demonstrated excellence




in dental school because we feel like it makes it so much easier to continue afterward. One thing we look at before our students are even accepted into dental school is the type of community service they’ve done in high school and college. We feel it’s a way the College of Dental Medicine can give back to the community. We like being able to do that.” In addition to volunteering for Dentists for Della and Give a Smile, dental students provided free oral exams, dental treatment, and referrals to farmworkers at the Costa Layman Health Fair, elementary school children at the college’s annual Give Kids a Smile event, shoppers at the Barnyard Flea Market, children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the CSRA, and Georgia residents at the Georgia Mission of Mercy charitable dental clinic in Atlanta. They also gave dental hygiene presentations at local elementary schools and manufacturing companies and raised funds for Operation Smile, a national organization for children with cleft lip and cleft palate. Third-year dental student India Lamothe recently founded a local chapter of the organization. The students also volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army, Golden Harvest Food Bank, and soup kitchens, along with tutoring, donating blood, sending relief and holiday packages across the world, and contributing to other causes. Here’s a closer look at two of the college’s most enduring and endearing volunteer efforts:




Discoveries in Progress

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“Her clerkship course prompted me to reach out and get involved in the community,” Dawson said. “Now, four years later, I can’t imagine my time in Augusta without the people I have met and the relationships that I have formed through Dentists for Della. I believe Dr. Hanes’ vision for the course was for students to see how much community service can change their own lives as much as the people they are helping. It certainly has changed me and my experience in Augusta. Augusta is not merely a place that I lived as I transitioned to my next stage of life. Augusta is my home, and I will forever hold a place in my heart for it and the projects that I have worked on while living here.”


in programming, leadership, and overall organization enthusiasm during its first years. Organizations must be chartered for no more than two academic years to qualify. Dentists for Della received the 2013 award for hosting numerous fundraisers to provide dental treatment at Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home, including several events at local restaurants, a letter-writing campaign, and a No-Shave November contest and dinner that raised over $1,500. “It has meant a lot to everyone in our entire class,” said Mallory Dawson, a dental student and President of Dentists for Della, about the volunteer experience. “Treating patients at Georgia War Veterans is a moving experience. After completing my first treatment at Georgia War Veterans, I was very emotional. My patient enjoyed having dental work done. That is rare for our profession. He would have allowed me to work on him all day.” The volunteer opportunity also benefits the dental students, Dawson said. “Learning to treat the elderly population is crucial to our education,” Dawson said. “The elderly population is the fastest-growing population in the United States. We learn the principles of treatment in the classroom, but nothing compares to the actual clinical experience. Having Dr. Ciarrocca in the classroom with us and instructing us over at Georgia War Veterans takes our understanding of treating medically complex patients to an entirely new level. We are so lucky to have faculty who are so invested in us learning and treating patients as a whole and not just the oral cavity.” Dental student Grayson Griffis said that he also benefited from his volunteer work at Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home. “Seeing the smiles, hearing the stories, and lending our hearts to these wonderful people has kindled a love for service in our daily lives,” Griffis said. “It is the very least we can do to repay them for the sacrifices they have made so that we might be free.” Calling community service at the College of Dental Medicine “truly outstanding,” Dawson gives the credit to Dr. Carole Hanes.


Give a Smile



Give a Smile was founded in 2007 by College of Dental Medicine students who became increasingly aware of patients who were forced to decline or refuse necessary treatment simply because they could not afford it. The organization’s mission is to benefit patients in the dental school who, because of lack of resources, are unable to receive dental treatments necessary to increase and maintain their quality of life. Give a Smile strives to serve as many patients as possible by funding a portion of their dental treatment, while still remaining anonymous. “A lot of times there are mitigating circumstances, and there’s something that they really need, like a restoration or something,” said Marissa Ludley, a senior dental student and Treasurer of Give a Smile. “For whatever reason, they can’t afford the treatment. We try to make sure that we pick good cases where we can help to pay for the treatment and the patient can receive the full benefit of the student clinic.” Give a Smile is committed to assisting as many patients as possible who meet the requirements, have been reliable patients, and are in dire need of dental treatment. In the past, the group has benefited victims of domestic abuse, a child with a rare birth defect resulting in malformed teeth, patients in severe pain, patients with severe periodontal disease and/or multiple caries, and others. This commitment to service landed the group the Leave a Trace Award, presented to a campus organization for excellent community service. Through fundraising efforts and a Delta Dental grant, Give a Smile has provided over $10,000 to cover dental treatments for those who would otherwise be unable to afford the necessary care.


A Way of Life Community service has become a way of life for Andrea Pierce, a junior dental student, who logged a total of 60 volunteer hours last school year. She has volunteered with Dentists for Della, Barnyard Flea Market, Habitat for Humanity, and local elementary schools through Operation Smile. She has also traveled to Peru on dental mission trips and worked with Students United for America’s Tooth Fairy, which provides free dental screenings at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the CSRA. “I enjoy doing it. I think there’s a benefit for me and the people that we serve,” Pierce said. “I love talking to the veterans at Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home about how their day is going, what they have planned, who’s coming to visit them, and what they’re watching on TV. With the kids, it’s just fun. They’re very excited to tell you how many teeth they have in their mouth or how often they’re supposed to brush. Dentistry is a service-oriented profession, so I think the passion for people initially to come to dental school, or me at least, was a passion to serve others. It just so happens that dentistry is the means to do that.” n F A L L / W I N T ER 2013

The award is considered one of the most competitive on campus because of the dedication of GRU students to the community, according to the Office of Student Life and Engagement. Ludley feels the name of the award, “Leave a Trace,” is fitting for the impact that Give a Smile has on patients. “I definitely think that’s exactly what our organization does. We can affect the lives of these patients and help students who have seen the needs of their patients. It’s a lasting contribution that we make,” Ludley said. Give a Smile, which has about 35 members, raises money for patients’ dental treatment through two annual fundraisers—a 5K run in the fall and a winetasting event in the spring—as well as applying for grants. “I’ve just been very proud of this organization because it’s totally conceived, organized, and run by students. It was very innovative on the part of our students,” Hanes said. “One of the good things about coming to the dental school to be treated is that dental services that are provided by students are at a reduced fee. But still, in many cases, that’s not reduced enough for some to be able to easily afford it. The students felt this was a way of helping to give back to the community and patients who were willing to come to the dental school.”

Average number of students per class

Almost 7,000:

Total community service hours (freshman, sophomore, and junior classes)


Community service hours per class (freshman, sophomore, and junior)

75 percent:

Percentage of volunteer hours related to dental service

25 percent:

Non-dental-related service

95 percent:

Service projects planned or conceived by students





2012-13 Numbers:


An Exceedingly Bright Future Hooding Speaker Urges Graduates to Embrace ‘Awesome Opportunities’




THE 2013 GRADUATES of the Georgia Regents University College of Dental Medicine have embarked on “a vibrant and wonderful profession absolutely overflowing with possibilities,” according to the President and CEO of the American Dental Education Association. “Your futures are exceedingly bright,” Dr. Richard W. Valachovic told the graduates as keynote speaker of the college’s 2013 Hooding Ceremony, held May 10. In fact, he said, the present may be the best time in history to enter the dental profession. “One factor increasing demand for dental services is the widespread interest in health in general,” Valachovic said. “Like healthy eating and exercise, dental care is now encouraged for both health and appearance reasons, so the profession benefits from the public’s desire for a healthy mouth and sparkling smile to accompany their athletic bodies.”


A Trusted Profession

Addressing problems such as these, he told the graduates, should be a high priority—as well as serving as role models to the community at large. “All of us must serve as living role models for everyone from our patients to children to those who may be future dentists,” Valachovic said. “It is part of our responsibility to our profession and to ourselves to do so. “I hope that the one-on-one personal delivery of your hood and your degree will forever forge in your minds and hearts the distinctly personal nature of the dental professions and the powerful personal responsibility it entails.” Wishing the graduates a lifetime of success, he noted, “On this day, this turning point in your lives, I extend to you my heartiest congratulations for how far you’ve come and wish you the greatest of success with how far you’re going to go.” n

“Dentistry was found to be among the most trusted professions in a recent Gallup poll. Another poll found that nearly 90 percent of adult patients were satisfied with services provided by their dental professionals.” DR. RICHARD W. VALACHOVIC


F A L L / W I N T ER 2013

Valachovic urged the graduates to honor their hardearned good fortune by being excellent stewards of a noble profession. “Aside from the obvious dedication to becoming a competent and caring practitioner to your patients and a supportive colleague to your associates,” he said, “part of being a professional is realizing that your education doesn’t end with this commencement ceremony. It is critical for your future as a professional that you make a commitment to lifelong learning. “Your degree gives you opportunities and responsibilities that are pretty awesome. We all need to respect these responsibilities as a professional every day of our lives.”

Turning Point


Lifelong Learning

He particularly stressed the importance of treating the underserved and enhancing access to dentistry. “Low-income individuals, minorities, and those with limited education,” he said, “are particularly at risk for dental problems and have the highest incidence of oral disease; yet members of those groups, who are often living in underserved rural and urban areas, also have the least access to dental care.”


Another modern-day boon to the profession, he noted, is the esteem associated with it. “Dentistry was found to be among the most trusted professions in a recent Gallup poll,” he said. “Another poll found that nearly 90 percent of adult patients were satisfied with services provided by their dental professionals.” But the most fulfilling thing about dentistry today, Valachovic said, is that the profession can—and does— help more people than ever before. “Complementing these trends—and certainly contributing to my continuing assessment of this time as a wonderful era for us—is the massive expansion in procedures and techniques that enable all of us to serve our patients better than ever before,” he said. “These improvements range from implant dentistry to aesthetic dentistry to novel orthodontic treatments to improved surgical treatments and tissue engineering—and beyond. “Thank goodness we don’t have to worry about dental caries as much anymore and can concentrate on the real health issues of sustaining oral health and helping people keep their teeth for a lifetime.”


PHOTOS: COURTESY Gilbert Photography

Alum Draws on Personal Experience to Tackle Community Needs




Full Circle





F A L L / W I N T ER 2013

Dr. J. Don Spillers Jr. remembers the day his self-esteem was transformed. It was the day in ninth grade that his braces were removed. No one in his family had ever attended college, much less dental school, but that was when he envisioned his destiny. “I had a bad bite, and braces just changed how I felt about myself. It changed me as a person, really. I thought, ‘This is pretty cool to be able to do this for somebody.’”



He wanted to do it for others, so he kept a laser-like focus on his dream from that point forward. The Warner Robins, Ga., native earned his undergraduate degree from Georgia Southwestern State University, then enrolled in the Georgia Regents University College of Dental Medicine. Along the way, he volunteered as often as possible in Dr. George Baxley’s Americus, Ga., general dentistry office. “He was gracious enough to take me under his wing the whole time I was in college and dental school,” says Spillers (’90). “I spent every Tuesday afternoon that I could in his office. He taught me how to do impressions and lots of other procedures before I ever even got to dental school.” Once at GRU, he perpetuated his penchant for seeking out mentors. “Dental school was hard, no doubt, but I look back and realize I had a lot of great people who took the time to share their abilities with me,” he says, citing longtime GRU faculty such as Drs. Frank Caughman and Carole Hanes. “They really helped me not just be average but to excel.”


Laser-Like Focus


Transforming Self-Esteem After dental school, he completed an orthodontics residency at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry, then hung his shingle in his hometown. Today, he devotes his time to helping transform the self-esteem of countless fellow citizens at Dr. J. Don Spillers Family Orthodontics in Warner Robins. “It’s very exciting for me,” Spillers says. “Technology-wise, orthodontics is on the cutting edge, everything from 3-D imaging to 3-D printing. It’s really, really exciting. It’s very touching when you finish up and get a big thank you and a hug.” Those full-circle moments, he says, remind him why he pursued dentistry in the first place. “You can’t go out and buy self-confidence. But changing how people feel about themselves makes a difference.”

Giving Back Spillers is equally enthusiastic about related goals, as well: nurturing aspiring dentists’ dreams by mentoring them in his office, then helping fund the education of those who can’t afford it. “I had a lot of help along the way with scholarships in college and dental school,” he says. “I knew my parents couldn’t help me and I had to do it myself. Thanks to the generosity of others, I was able to make it happen. I always said that when I got the opportunity to give back, I would.” And he did. Spillers and his wife, Cheryl, recently established a scholarship fund for each of the College of Dental Medicine’s four classes, as well as an annual gift to the Department of Orthodontics. “I would encourage all of our colleagues to consider paying it forward,” he says. “I think a lot of the kids coming out of school don’t have a lot of options because they’re so deep in debt. If we can all help a little bit, they’d have a lot more options, which in the long run is going to help the entire profession.”


“I would encourage all of our colleagues to consider paying it forward. I think a lot of the kids coming out of school don’t have a lot of options because they’re so deep in debt. If we can all help a little bit, they’d have a lot more options, which in the long run is going to help the entire profession.” – DR. DON SPILLERS


Life-Changer Says Dale Crail, GRU Director of Development, “Don and Cheryl’s generosity will help deserving young people launch their careers and enhance dental care for generations to come. It’s incredibly heartening when an alumnus not only creates a fulfilling career for himself, but lends a hand to those who follow. It speaks volumes about Don and Cheryl’s caring natures that they never forgot the helping hand they received at a pivotal time in life, and have always retained their commitment to extend that same helping hand to others.” Criteria for the scholarships include financial need and community service—also very close to Spillers’ heart. His long list of community service includes serving as a church elder, a member of several professional dental organizations, and a former member of his local Board of Education. He and Cheryl also accompany their son and daughter on regular trips to the Angel House Orphanage in Tanzania, building homes, volunteering dental services, and otherwise assisting some of the world’s neediest people.

“That’s really close to our hearts,” Spillers says. “It’s been a life-changer for all of us.” The experience has prompted his son, a freshman at Mercer University, to set his sights on dentistry.

Following Their Dreams Spillers applauds his children’s aspirations, whatever they are. “I’ve never pushed dentistry on either of them,” he says. “I just kind of expose them to what I do, then encourage them to follow their own dreams.” Indeed, dentistry has always been a family affair for Spillers, whose wife works in his office. “We don’t see each other very much; I’m seeing patients all day. But we get to have lunch together,” he says. “She certainly plays a major role in our success.” He laughs that it took him a while to win his wife over, but that he is as persistent in his personal goals as he is in his professional aspirations. “We grew up in the same neighborhood and were best friends, but we didn’t actually start dating until college,” he says. “I tease her that it took her a while to figure out what she was missing.”

The inaugural Dr. Don Spillers F A L L / W I N T ER 2013

Family Scholarships were presented during the College of Dental Medicine’s Welcome Back Ceremony Aug. 21. The recipients (pictured with Associate Dean Carole Hanes)

Baxley, Ga.; Lida Paez, Valencia, Venezuela; Stephanie Silva, Augusta; and Josh Buckner, Griffin, Ga.

To contribute to the Dr. Don Spillers Family Scholarship Fund, contact the Office of Advancement at 706-721-8614 or www.giving.gru.edu.



Grayson Griffis (from left),


and their hometowns are:

ADVANCEMENT UPDATE DR. CONNIE DRISKO accomplished much in her 10-year tenure as Dean of the College of Dental Medicine. Many of our readers are familiar with her high energy level and her contagious enthusiasm. As Dean, Connie was tireless in her development efforts. She traveled throughout the state to speak to groups about plans for the new building. A typical schedule would include an evening reception at the business or home of an alumnus or professional colleague, followed by several days of visiting prospective donors in and around the region. She was what we in the business call a road warrior. Those in Advancement who traveled with her were amazed by her stamina and her laser-like focus on raising money for her beloved college. They were also impressed with how quickly she developed relationships and how warmly she greeted, and was received by, others. Connie’s partnership with the Office of Advancement created much synergy and an enduring esprit de corps.




A D VA N C E M E N T Something else evolved through this process. Connie realized, like many of us in Advancement, that there is something magical when a donor’s altruism and the needs of the university and its students converge. Few things are more rewarding. She and her husband, Dr. Dick Drisko, are personally familiar with the joy of giving, having made major investments themselves in GRU and other organizations. So, she didn’t just have to imagine what a donor must feel—she knew it. And it made her resolve to share the experience with others. For that reason, Connie was reluctant to stop fundraising when she stepped down as Dean of the College of Dental Medicine. In short, she was hooked. So, when I approached Connie about joining the Office of Advancement part time, she enthusiastically agreed. Connie also dedicates her time to another very worthy endeavor as CoDirector of the Georgia Regents University Executive Leadership Academy. She and Dr. Marc Miller, Dean of the Hull College of Business, are fiercely committed to this program that trains and mentors the leaders of tomorrow. She now splits her time between the Executive Leadership Academy and Advancement, capitalizing on two of her major strengths: leadership and fundraising. Connie and I believe there are many who have not yet had the opportunity to give back. Proving that point, within the first few weeks in her new role, Connie and her advancement colleagues closed over $500,000 in gifts. We are so fortunate to have Connie working on behalf of GRU and on behalf of each of you. I know you join me in welcoming her to her new role. And don’t be surprised if you hear from her soon. n SUSAN BARCUS Senior Vice President of Advancement



A L U M N I bites

Dr. Maureen Martin (’06) has joined the TeethWhiteningforFree.com team, extending complimentary teeth-whitening to patients who visit her office for a routine exam. Martin practices in the Cartersville, Ga., area.

Dr. Candace Lauderdale (’09) is the lead dentist at Aspen Dental’s practice in Columbus, Ga., one of eight Aspen Dental locations in the state. Dr. Robert Crawford (’10, Dental Resident) completed an orthodontic residency at GRU and practices in Augusta. Dr. Travis Fiegle (’10, Orthodontics Resident) practices with Winning Orthodontic Smiles in Beaufort, S.C.

Dr. Benjamin James Taylor (’13) recently joined his family’s dentistry practice in Jonesboro, Ga. Dr. Brandon Whitworth (’13) practices with Alcovy Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Covington, Ga. Drs. Somkiat Aimplee and Esam Abou Nahiah, recent graduates of the Advanced Education Program in Prosthodontics, have been named Diplomates of the American Board of Prosthodontics. Aimplee is completing a fellowship in the Goldstein Center for Esthetic and Implant Dentistry.

IN MEMORIAM Dr. James Finch (DMD ’74) Dr. Stephen Turner (DMD ’75)

F A L L / W I N T ER 2013

Dr. Richard Bennett (’98) has received the Georgia Dental Association’s 2013 Community Service Award, honoring extraordinary service to the quality of life and health of those they serve.

Dr. James Hicks (’09) recently opened Pediatric Dentistry of Johns Creek in Duluth, Ga. Hicks completed a twoyear residency at the University of Kentucky while earning a specialty certificate in pediatric dentistry and a master of science degree in 2011.

Dr. Adam Goldberg (’10) is included in Georgia Trend’s “40 Under 40” list of young Georgians making an exceptional impact on their professions and communities.


Dr. Cary Goldstein (’84) has been elected to the executive board of the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry. Goldstein chaired the Local Arrangements Committee for the board’s annual meetings in Puerto Rico, Naples, Fla., and Washington, D.C.

Dr. Eric Hall (’09) has received the Academy of General Dentistry’s Fellowship Award, awarded to only 5 percent of dentists.


Dr. Larry L. Tilley (’75) recently was featured on the cover of the Journal of CRANIO. Tilley’s Calhoun, Ga., practice includes treatment of craniofacial pain and TMJ.


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Word of Mouth Fall/Winter 2013  

Word of Mouth is produced biannually by the Georgia Regents University College of Dental Medicine in collaboration with the Office of Commun...

Word of Mouth Fall/Winter 2013  

Word of Mouth is produced biannually by the Georgia Regents University College of Dental Medicine in collaboration with the Office of Commun...

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