Visitors to Portland Get a Taste of 100 Years of Oregon's Only Dental School's History

03/04/99    Portland, Ore.

Major technological advances made by dental researchers at Oregon Health Sciences University's School of Dentistry will be one of the many features of a display at Portland's International Airport in the north lobby near gate D1 beginning March 1. This year the school is celebrating its 100th birthday with a traveling display of its accomplishments and other historical artifacts.

A high-speed hand drill with major improvements made by Oregonians will be featured in the display. The drill was invented in 1949, but it was OHSU dental researchers and Portland engineers who improved it. The drills were spinning at such high revolutions per minute that the bearings literally burned up. SO they designed the air bushing, a way to suspend the drill bit in air reducing friction to near zero. The team also invented a variable-speed foot pedal control for the drill. Prior to this design the drills had only two speeds: on and off.

Another technological advancement made at the school that became the standard worldwide was the development of the high copper-silver amalgam. Amalgam is used to fill teeth where cavities have left holes. The fillings used to be made with a high concentration of silver causing them to fatigue and chip away. When the balance of alloy metals was changed, the fillings started lasting ten years longer.

Advances at the dental school have also been made in the area of student diversity. Articles from the first female dentist who graduated from the School of Dentistry and one of the first female black dentists in the country will b eon display along with pictures of the current dean, Sharon Turner, D.D.S., J.D. She is one of only two female dental school deans in the country today.

OHSU's School of Dentistry has gone beyond the borders of the United States to share a dental exchange program with its sister dental school Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan. Sapporo is also Portland's sister city. Gifts from Japanese dentists will be on display such as a finely crafted model ship, tapestries and the school's flag.

One of the accomplishments the dental school is most proud of is the contribution it's made to the dental health of Oregon in the last 100 years. Photos and descriptions of its various outreach clinics will be exhibited. Some of the clinics such as the Russell Street Clinic in Portland, Salad in Woodburn and OHSU's Area Health Education Centers provide dental care to the underserved around the state. Another primary mission of the school us prevention. Students in the dental hygiene program travel to elementary schools teaching young children how to take good care of their mouths.

Other features of the display include an antique ceramic toothpaste and powder dish and hand-operated drills.

Biographies about notable alumni such as Rep. Ron Packard of California former president of the American Dental Association, William TenPas and the ambassador of Malta, Kathy Haycock Proffitt will also be available.

The School of Dentistry's historical exhibit will be located at the Portland International Airport in the north lobby near gate D1 from March 1 through 31. The next stop for the display will be the School of Dentistry, then on to the rotunda of the sate capitol building later this year.

This year Oregon's only dental school is celebrating 100 years of clinical excellence in dentistry and dental education. OHSU's School of Dentistry is proud of its national reputation for producing outstanding clinical dentists who pass their board exams with some of the highest scores in the country.