Dentists Gather to Sink Their Teeth into Bench-to-Chairside Research

This month more than 100 dentists and other oral health care providers from the northeast U.S. gathered in Rochester as part of one of the largest translational research


(l to r) Drs. Teresa Skalyo, Philip Epstein, Janice Pliszczak, Samuel Barr, John Comisi, Luiz Fujimoto, Susan Zemmel

efforts nationwide aimed at improving the public’s oral health.

The group is part of the National Dental Practice Based Research Network, funded by a $67 million National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research grant. The lead institution is the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Eastman Institute for Oral Health houses one of the six U.S. regional centers and is responsible for research activities in the northeast. The Network is a consortium of nearly 5,000 U.S. providers representing dental practices and clinics who are devoted to conducting research with practical impact on care, paying special

Drs. Edward Chappelle and John Martin

Drs. Edward Chappelle and John Martin

attention to topics that lack good evidence.

One such topic is treatment of cracked teeth. The National Dental PBRN will create a registry of information about cracked teeth, collected by network members over four years to identify a wide variety of characteristic s associated with initial symptoms, treatments and outcomes.

Dental Hygienists Karen Glomboski and Patricia Swanson

Dental Hygienists Karen Glomboski and Patricia Swanson

The Network’s northeast region hosted the meeting this month to provide a forum for members to share previous experiences, and to discuss optimal research methodology in a private practice setting.

Practitioners presented results of previous practice-based studies, and others shared topics they would like to see studied among the network or are already approved protocol. “These

Attendees working in small groups on effective methodologies

Attendees worked in small groups on effective methodologies

include dentin hypersensitivity treatment and common practices of head and neck exams for oral cancer in dental offices,” explained Cyril Meyerowitz, DDS, MS, former EIOH director and principal investigator for the network’s northeast region. Topics under development in the northeast include diagnosis and treatment of salivary dysfunction in dental offices, impact of new anticoagulants on bleeding in dental offices, and dental hygienists approach to oral disease prevention, among others.

Attendees discussing how to close the gap from bench to chairside in dental practices.

Attendees discussed how to close the gap from bench to chairside in dental practices.

“Being a member of the network has expanded my view of dental care,” said Allan J. Horowitz, DDS, a member of the practitioner advisory group who practices in King of Prussia, PA. “It brings fresh insight into what I do on a daily basis. It has enhanced the excitement that my staff brings to work every day, and our patients appreciate and want to be a part of the vision of improving dentistry into the future.”

More photos below:

The official National Dental PBRN Selfie!

The official National Dental PBRN Selfie!

Drs. Patrick Foy and Cyril Meyerowitz

Drs. Patrick Foy and Cyril Meyerowitz

Dr. Michael Romano (back to camera), Jason Keem, RDH, Dr. Alison Harding, Leslie Huey, RDH, Debra Damick, RDH

Dr. Michael Romano (back to camera), Jason Keem, RDH, Dr. Alison Harding, Leslie Huey, RDH, Debra Damick, RDH

Dr. Maricelle Abayon

Dr. Maricelle Abayon


Posted in Clinical, Dental Research, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, Research | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Eastman Dental Helping One Child at a Time – This Week at Court

 Young children living in poverty have significant unmet dental needs and often have reduced quality of life as a result of severe tooth decay, also known as early childhood caries. Untreated dental disease remains a sustained, unmet health need for many children living in Rochester.

Every day, hundreds of these young children accompany parents or caregivers to scheduled court appearances, many of whom are five years or younger and not receiving vital services, including health, educational and nutritional benefits.

While in court, the children may be exposed to disturbing proceedings, or their presence can be a distraction from judicial business. But if kept outside the courtroom in waiting areas, the children may endure boredom and discomfort in waiting areas. Image
New  York helped solve this problem by developing the nation’s first statewide system of cheerful, welcoming Children’s Centers in the courts, providing a safe, literacy-rich environment and an opportunity for positive interventions in the lives of vulnerable children. (see more info at end of article)

The Children’s Center recently invited Eastman Dental to talk with the kids about the importance of keeping their mouths clean and healthy. “The children had fun coloring pictures related to good hygiene and were pleased to see their artwork hung on a bulletin board for all to view,” said Lenora Colaruotolo, EIOH social worker.    social work photot two

“It was a great opportunity to discuss the importance of children’s oral health with parents when they returned from their court appearance, and to offer referral information to a dental home.

The Monroe County Children’s Center–a short-term, drop-off childcare facility at the Monroe County Hall of Justice is designed to provide a free, safe-haven for young children while their parents are in court for a variety of reasons, including orders of protection for domestic violence, custody, child support, maltreatment, substance use, and juvenile delinquency.

In addition, it also provides a setting in which children and families at-risk for poor outcomes are connected to needed services.  Depending on the parent’s court appearance, children could spend from one hour to an entire day at the Center.  Because of the high turnover rate each day, the Center serves more than 3,000 children per year.

“Given the high-risk population served by the Center, Eastman Dental was pleased to participate in Dental Health Week,” she added. “We provided oral health screenings, education and guidance, and gave away hygiene items and brochures.

“Thanks to EIOH hygienist Mary Pistelli and EIOH Social Work intern Andrea Licata, we successfully served many vulnerable families,” Colaruotolo added.

About the Children’s Centers
The Children’s Centers have turned a problem into a possibility, with positive outcomes for families. They regularly facilitate connections between families and services such as Head Start, WIC, food stamps, literacy and other community services.
The Children’s Center’s mission is to provide~

  • A safe, supportive haven for children in the courthouse; 
  • A vehicle for connecting families to needed services.

Local community agencies, which include some of New York’s premier child care organizations, provide day-to-day operation and supervision in the Centers under contract with the Unified Court System.

The project was initiated in 1994 by the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children and is currently administered by the Office of Court Administration’s Division of Professional and Court Services, Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Court Improvement.  The project continues to operate with the support, advice and counsel of the Commission.

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Merry Valentine Patrick’s Spring Halloween Tree!

Stephen Marfione standing by the tree

Stephen Marfione held a fundraiser to help oral cancer patients.

What was once a Christmas tree in the General Dentistry clinic at Eastman Dental, has now become a Festive Everything tree, and a visual reminder of people caring for people.

“It all started with a lack of storage,” laughed Stephen Marfione, Eastman Dental’s scheduling coordinator for General Dentistry. “[Administrator] Galina Torres and I thought about the possibility of leaving it up and decorating it for different occasions.”

But then Marfione, who has a homemade cards and wedding invitations business, thought about making ornaments for a fund raiser to help those in need.  People who supported the fund raiser not only get to feel good about helping others, but they get to wear jeans on a designated work day.

After collaborating with several of his colleagues, the Valentine’s Day theme charity was chosen.

“Many of us have been affected by cancer somehow in our lives, and the department wanted the cause to be dental related, so we merged the two,” Marfione explained. “The money was earmarked to help people dealing with oral cancers.”  Oftentimes, patients need to have teeth extracted before cancer treatment, and will need dentures or other restorative work when treatment is done.  In many cases, the patient’s dental insurance has exceeded its limit, or he or she doesn’t have insurance. The first Valentine’s Day fundraiser was very successful with 31 participants and $145 raised.

Marfione said they will sponsor new fundraisers regularly and support different organizations within UR Medicine or the Rochester community.

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Rose Welsher Wins Coveted Award

Rose Welsher

Rose Welsher, Senior Administrator for EIOH Central Billing, won the URMC Board Excellence Award

In the constantly changing, complex and sometimes frustrating world of dental and medical billing, Rose Welsher is a breath of fresh air.

Since Rose became Senior Administrator for the Eastman Institute for Oral Health’s Central Billing Office more than five years ago, she has orchestrated major changes that have improved operations, advanced the bottom line, and greatly enhanced morale among her staff of 17 people.

These accomplishments have landed her this year’s University of Rochester Medical Center’s Board Excellence Award, given each year to just a handful of the medical center’s top performers who consistently go above and beyond.
Equipped with more than 20 years experience in medical billing, Rose established effective lines of communication between internal and external customers when navigating through complex billing issues, resulting in smooth interactions between clinical departments, other University divisions, and insurance companies.

She also initiated and led an effort to improve communication internally, which has led to many positive changes within the Eastman Dental clinics. Rose created and presented pertinent documentation to the residents in a manner that ensured their understanding and improved compliance with billing regulatory guidelines.

Always looking for opportunities to save time, eliminate duplication and increase efficiency, Rose believes that goal setting and measurement lead to continuous improvement. With the roll-out of electronic health record, she has overseen time-saving, positive changes to every aspect of the business, like re-vamping the patient statement processes, incorporating changes to help front desk staff with the collection process, and introducing electronic billing for private dental payors.

Her enthusiasm and ability to motivate people are truly remarkable. Her loyal staff, who greatly appreciate her open door policy, describe her as very knowledgeable, resourceful, fair, and easy to talk to.  When she doesn’t have the immediate answer to a problem or question, she will always get it.  They say she doesn’t play favorites and will always listen and consider new ideas from staff.

Rose’s strong leadership promotes mutual respect and compassion for her staff’s lives outside work. She enjoys mentoring and helping develop the leadership skills of her team, whom she credits for her own success. Her infectious laugh, easy-going spirit or one of her famous stories make the atmosphere in the office enjoyable.

One employee said, “If you have a problem you can always go to her. If you don’t understand something she will go over it with you until you get it.”

“She’s good at reminding me that not everyone works the same and that you sometimes need to handle things differently between staff members,” said another staff member.

Others appreciate that Rose, who always does something fun at the end of every team meeting, gets involved in their work, so she understands their jobs and can do it herself if needed. Having this knowledge, Rose says, not only makes her a better leader, but also allows her to see how processes can be improved along the way.

Rose Welsher’s unwavering commitment to dentistry and excellence, with her strong leadership and work ethic, customer service, warmth and compassion, make her the ideal recipient for this distinguished award.


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Adult-size Toothbrush and Toothpaste Visit Local Day Care

ImageTooth decay among children, also known as Early Childhood Caries, is a very common disease and is most prevalent among minority and rural populations in the U.S., as well as the general population.  But over the last 10 years, the percentage of U.S. children who visit a dentist is climbing, a beginning in changing the course.

Also, as dental insurance coverage increases for children because of the Affordable Care Act, it is likely this trend will continue.  But insurance coverage alone won’t guarantee improved oral health.

“Education and access are key to changing the landscape of dental decay among children and adults,” said Linda Rasubala, DDS, PhD, a dentist and faculty member with Eastman Dental.  “I believe it’s critical to emphasize the importance of good oral habits at a young age.”

That’s why she and 10 residents with Eastman’s Advanced Education in General Dentistry and General Practice Residency programs recently visited the Children’s School at the University of Rochester Medical Center, a day care and preschool for children up to age 6.  The event was sponsored by Oral B/Crest, who generously donated goodie bags filled with products to distribute to all the children.Image

“We absolutely loved having them here!! The children and teachers enjoyed the program and the kids loved learning about dental health,” said Tiffany VanAuker, the Children’s School director. “The parents were thrilled with the “goodie bags” and I heard the children telling their parents all about it at pick up time.”

 “For this age group, we wanted to make learning fun, so a couple dentists dressed up as a toothbrush and another as a tube of toothpaste,” Rasubala added.  “The kids loved it.  We talked about why teeth are important, why going to the dentist is necessary, the right way to brush teeth, and what could happen if we forget or don’t brush our teeth.”

children learning to brushThe residents went to different classrooms and presented the material in an age-appropriate manner.   After each presentation, the residents would ask the students questions to review and reinforce the information.  They also left the kids with dental health pictures to color and take home.

“It is so important for us here at the center to be a part of the URMC community and participate in any outreach programs that we can,” VanAuker added.  “ It is a great learning opportunity for the children and teachers.”Image

Dr. Rasubala, who organized the educational event, earned her dental degree at the University of Indonesia and her Ph.D. at Kyushu University in Japan.  She then earned two certificates in advanced general dentistry training at Eastman Institute for Oral Health at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

“It’s important to me to give back to the community and promote the importance of oral health,” Rasubala added.  “The parents of the Children’s School’s students may be unaware of the services so easily accessible to their families through Eastman Dental. It’s a win-win for everyone.”Image


The other participants were Drs. Velasquez, Planerova, Sousa, Bala, Inaba,  Syrrakou, Gorantla, Beltran, Al-Allaq, and Almaguer.

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Makeover Winner Smiles a Lot More Now


Gregory Ras holding a photo taken before his smile makeover

Twenty-five year old Gregory Ras says he is treated differently now than he used to be. Acquaintances and co-workers seem to be friendlier and more outgoing toward him.  He thinks it’s because of his new teeth.  But Gregory’s mom, Colleen Ras, thinks his overall confidence and self esteem have grown considerably since his smile makeover, and as a result, people respond more favorably than before.
“Hundreds of people like Greg who entered our Smile Makeover contest were unhappy with their teeth and shared similar sentiments– they were  too embarrassed and self-conscious to smile or go out in public; or they had lost teeth and always cover their mouth with their hand,” remembers Carlo Ercoli, DDS, chair, Prosthodontist Division at Eastman Dental.  “We completely understand that one’s teeth can impact quality of life, either positively or negatively.  That’s why choosing just a few winners from nearly 1,000 people who entered our smile makeover contest was a very difficult challenge.”
Gregory had been diagnosed with two congenital conditions where some of his teeth were missing (oligodontia), and the ones he did have were smaller than normal size (microdontia).
Ercoli said they are both common, people can get either one or the other or both, and with varying degrees of severity.
“It can range from affecting one tooth, which can be missing or misshaped, to many teeth as in Greg’s case,” Ercoli explained.  “The more teeth affected, the more complex the case gets as the gum and bone structure do not form as well as they should.”

Greg Ras with parents and providers

Gregory shown with his parents and Eastman Dental makeover specialists during a recent appointment.

“We had been to a few specialists to get estimates on how to fix his teeth, but without insurance covering most of the work, it was extremely expensive,” explained Colleen.  “So when I saw the ad for the contest, I definitely encouraged him to enter.”
“I wanted to get a better smile to look nice, so I entered the contest,” Greg said.
“We were all so surprised and ecstatic when he won!” said Colleen.  The specialists in Eastman Dental’s Prosthodontics, Periodontics and Orthodontics divisions collaborated to develop Greg’s treatment plan.  He would need a full arch implant-supported bridge in the lower arch and implant-supported crowns and tooth bridges in the upper arch.
“His upper premolars were extracted and four implants were placed,” explained Ercoli, who oversaw Greg’s case over the two years and four months of treatment. “After the implants were placed, Gregory spent six months in orthodontic treatment.”
Orthodontics resident Evan Brown, DDS, who was supervised by attending faculty Edward Sommers, DDS, provided treatment to move his upper left canine and create more space for his upper left bridge.

Greg's teeth before makeover

Greg’s teeth before his Eastman Dental makeover

Greg's teeth before makeover

Greg’s teeth before his Eastman Dental Smile Makeover

Next, all of his lower malformed teeth were extracted, except for his permanent molars and six implants placed. After the orthodontic treatment was completed and the healing period for the implant was finished, the final prostheses were delivered.   In the upper arch, four implant crowns replaced the missing premolars and two three-unity bridges supported on his central incisors and canines replacing the missing upper lateral incisors. In the lower arch, long span implant bridge supported by six implants replaced all his missing teeth except for his molars.
“It’s been exceptional care,” Colleen said.  “So professional, smart and caring through every step of the process. They’ve been wonderful and patient, really thorough and great bedside manner…we couldn’t have asked for any better – Dr. Ercoli was attentive and a pleasure to meet and go through this experience with.  We are so lucky to get all this care from him and all his residents.”

Greg's new Eastman Dental smile

Greg’s new Eastman Dental smile

“Gregory’s smile looks fantastic, more grown up, and just a perfect fit for him!” she added. “I believe his overall confidence about his looks will help to continue to keep growing as a person at work and in his personal life. I can tell he feels good about it.”
“I’m loving my new smile,” Gregory said, smiling. “Originally, I thought they would grind my teeth down, but they did a lot more work than I thought..the whole process was a learning experience for me. They definitely exceeded my expectations.”
Greg added that they were very considerate, trying to match him with doctors that fit his personality, accommodating his work schedule, and always making sure he was comfortable.
“I definitely smile more than I used to,” Greg said.  “My friends and co-workers say my teeth look awesome. My family, aunts and uncles have also complimented me and say I now have the best teeth in my family!”
In addition to Dr. Carlo Ercoli, the prosthodontic residents who were involved in treating Greg include Drs. Berge Wazirian, Kostas Chochlidakis, Dimitri Papadimitriou, and Elyce Link.

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Keeping Our Community Healthy

group pic Serving the Rochester Community — A group of dedicated Eastman Dental  professionals were on hand recently at the Annual Women’s Screening Health Fair at the Public Market.  They provided demta; screenings and oral health education to everyone who stopped by.  Thanks to Dr. Gajendra, Dr. Gupta, Dr. Yanez, Dr. Bhatia, Michelle McCollough,  RDH, Tequila Wright, RDA, Carletta Carter, RDA, Yvette Washington, CDA, Rob Lang, Stacy Hill,  Damara Rodriguez, Ben Rosado, Sam Reyes, and Tammy Williams.

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