The predoctoral dental curriculum leads to the award of the doctor of dental medicine (D.M.D.) degree. The objectives of the curriculum are the education of competent general practitioners of dentistry and preparation for life-long learning and advanced training. Health care is more than a collection of knowledge and skills; dental professionals need certain personal qualities to meet the needs of their patients and the standards of their peers. The school fosters each student's commitment to support high ethical values, a liking for people and for unselfish service, an understanding of human relations, the ability to communicate, and a broad understanding of the community's and nation's health goals.
The first year begins with an introduction to professionalism, dental history and a cadaveric gross anatomy course. Courses in biochemistry, physiology, histology, neuroscience, dental anatomy, head and neck anatomy and inflammation follow to build on the sciences needed to provide oral health care. Students are introduced to the fundamentals of the oral examination, oral radiology, dental materials, periodontology and prevention of dental diseases.
The second year emphasizes development of the skills needed for dental techniques and the fundamentals for the dental sciences. This includes didactic and laboratory courses in facial growth, fixed and removable prosthodontics, operative dentistry, oral surgery, periodontology and endodontology, as well as clinical work in periodontology and operative dentistry. The second year also continues the study of basic science: microbiology, immunology, pathology, nutrition and pharmacology. The curriculum includes courses on caries, occlusion, and pain and anxiety control.
Emphasis during the third and fourth years is on clinical practice, supported by lecture and seminar sessions dealing with diagnosis of oral disease, application of dental materials, treatment planning and clinical treatment procedures. Experience is provided in employing chair-side assistance from dental auxiliaries. Students develop competency in general dentistry by treating patients in the dental clinics and off-site community clinics. Also, opportunities exist for dental students to participate in supervised programs that afford educational experiences off campus.
Enhancement of knowledge and development of technical skills are not the only aims of the curriculum. The ethical standards, social responsibilities and humanitarian attitudes characteristic of the healing professions are fostered in courses addressing ethics, the behavioral aspects of the dentist-patient relationship, and social and economic problems in dental care delivery. Courses in practice management instruct students in practical and legal aspects of dental practice.
The purpose of the dental educational program is to impart scientific knowledge and clinical skills needed in the practice of the dental profession, to instill standards of professional conduct as a way of life and to promote a dedication to continuous, life-long professional study and self- improvement.