Why a Dental School in Arizona?
A study conducted by A.T. Still University and a blue ribbon panel of the country’s leading dental experts confirmed the need for a dental school in Arizona. Also, recent statistics and trends point to emerging public health issues and concerns. Consider the following:
According to research conducted by Oral Health America in 2002, Arizona ranked low at 44 out of 50 states for the ratio of dental providers to people. Arizona has one dentist for every 2,520 residents, while the group reported a sufficient ratio is one dentist to 2,000 people. In addition, there also is an uneven distribution of providers in urban areas compared with a less than sufficient number of oral healthcare providers in rural areas of the state.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizonans have a higher rate of oral disease than the national average. Both Arizona children and seniors are part of the growing underserved indicated by alarming statistics, including:
- 31percent of Arizona children have never had a dental check-up.
- 43 percent of Arizona children ages 6 to 8 have untreated tooth decay, compared to the national average of 31percent .
- 65 percent of Arizona children between the ages of 11 to 13 have had tooth decay.
- 42 percent of Arizona seniors have bleeding gums and/or calculus present requiring professional care.
Current nationwide statistics indicate a future shortage because for every three dentists who retire, only two dentists enter the profession.
Currently, Arizona residents wishing to pursue dental education must go out of the state, and dental providers are recruited to come and practice in Arizona.
D.M.D. Degree and Dental Education Program
Our four-year dental program offers a doctor of dental medicine (D.M.D.) degree along with a certificate in public health. During the first and second year, students will learn from expert faculty lecturing in classrooms, from computer-based instruction and digital resources, and in a dental simulation laboratory on campus. Beginning in the second year and continuing in the third and fourth years, dental students will gain valuable experience and provide compassionate dental care at an on-campus dental clinic as well as clinical sites throughout the state of Arizona.
The on-campus dental clinic began providing dental treatment in 2005. The clinic provides students with provider-patient experience while at the same time serving as a community resource for patient referrals and oral health information.
The dental education program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at 312.440.4653 or at 211 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. This designation provides the full benefits of accreditation for the next four years to all ASDOH students. This includes eligibility for scholarships, student loans, the ability to sit for state licensure exams, and the opportunity to apply to postgraduate programs. In addition, A.T. Still University is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), 30 N. LaSalle St., Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602, phone 800.621.7440.
ASDOH students are selected from Arizona and across the country. Applicants are evaluated based on academic coursework, performance on the DAT, AADSAS application information, letters of recommendation, and interview. In addition, demonstrated community service through volunteerism or service-oriented employment experience is preferred.
First Day of Inaugural Class
The inaugural class of 54 students began class on July 21, 2003.
Arizona’s Dental Community
ASDOH will keep practicing dentists and others in Arizona’s dental community informed and updated about the school’s progress through several communication and community events; timely articles in dental journals, newspapers, and other publications; attending meetings, seminars, and exhibits; and supporting and working closely with the Arizona Dental Association.
Practicing Arizona Dentists
We appreciate the support received from both Arizona dentists and the Arizona Dental Association. ASDOH will continually strive to be an oral health and a dental community resource for practicing Arizona dentists. Our expert dental faculty and support staff is available for information and reference regarding community organizations, academic information, and resource materials. In addition, ASDOH aims to have practicing Arizona dentists interested in serving as mentors and being involved and engaged with our students.
As a need-based dental school, our focus is to educate students who will provide oral healthcare in areas of need and in underserved communities not only in Arizona but also throughout the Southwest and the United States. While it is unreasonable to expect every graduate to practice in areas of need, we hope our graduates will spend all or a portion of their time serving community oral healthcare needs.
ASDOH shares the Mesa, Arizona, Campus with the Arizona School of Health Sciences (ASHS), both schools of A.T. Still University. The state-of-the-art facility and campus is located just south of US60 at Baseline and Recker roads. ASHS offers master of science degrees in medical informatics, occupational therapy, physician assistant studies, and athletic training, along with doctoral degrees in audiology and physical therapy. The University’s Kirksville, Missouri, campus is home to the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine and the College of Graduate Health Studies. Additional information about ASDOH, ASHS, and the University is available at www.atsu.edu.