The Gift of Oral Health: Community Responds to a Critical Need

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UNE envisioned a need for a College of Dental Medicine to serve the northern New England region. To make this a reality, it would take a lot of support from dentists, businesses, foundations, and state and federal sources.

Maine high school students work on a patient simulator at UNE's Dental Careers Exploration Camp in the summer of 2011.

"Dental science indicates that the integration of health services with dental services is the best approach for the recovery of the patient," said Tom Raffio, CEO of Northeast Delta Dental.

The University of New England envisioned a need for a College of Dental Medicine to serve the northern New England region. To make this a reality, it would take a lot of support from dentists, businesses, foundations, and state and federal sources.

All of this has come true, and while fundraising is still ongoing, the College of Dental Medicine is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013.

Northeast Delta Dental led the way with a gift of $2.3 million. CEO Tom Raffio, said, "Dental science indicates that the integration of health services with dental services is the best approach for the recovery of the patient, so we're very pleased that dentists will be trained as members of a valued team of health care professionals at the University of New England and that their training will include experience at a community-based teaching dental clinic."

The UNE College of Dental Medicine teaching clinic, dental lab, simulation clinic and clinical offices were funded in part by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services through a $3.5 million dental bond (approximately 32% of the project cost) approved by voters in 2010.

UNE President Danielle Ripich said, “We appreciate that Maine recognizes the critical need to educate dentists for the people of our state. As the largest health care work force provider for Maine, UNE is fully prepared to create an innovative state-of-the-art education facility that will allow future dentists to be trained as part of a team of health care providers.”

College of Dental Medicine Dean James Koelbl said the school will begin accepting applications for its first cohort of students in June 2012 in anticipation of the 2013 opening. UNE is one of only five private universities with a comprehensive health education mission including medical, pharmaceutical, allied health programs, and soon dental.

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Susan Pierter
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