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Young Dental Grads Recognized

Young Dental Grads RecognizedFive graduates from the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine were recognized by the Massachusetts Dental Society for their contributions to the field.

Boston [06.21.05] The Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society has selected 10 young dentists – five of whom are graduates of Tufts' dental school – who have made notable accomplishmentsin the field or in their community. These "Ten under 10" all graduated from area dental schools within the past decade and were nominated by their peers in the field of dentistry.

The Journal said the goal of selecting these 10 dentists was to "highlight new practitioners and the changing demographics in dentistry." In the publication, the young dentists discuss the issues they face in the field and their outlook on the future.

Paul Fitzgerald DMD (D'96) volunteers with Bridge Over Troubled Waters, an organizationthat serves runaways and youths who live on the street, and Project Stretch, which provides dental services to disadvantaged children.

"Perhaps the most moving moment in my dental career – and surely the most memorable – was watching a 10-year-old girl in Nicaragua dressed in her best cotton dress walking alone and barefoot down a long winding mountain path after having an abscessed tooth extracted," he recalled. "Her only comment during the entire procedure, which was performed outdoors with her sitting on a wooden stool in the rain with someone holding an umbrella over our heads: 'Gracias.'"

Dawn Ackermann DMD (D'99) noted the challenge of being a female dentist.

"Many people assumed that I was a nurse or hygienist," she said. "Even to this day, most people think that I work for the dentist and not that I am the dentist."

She also emphasized the role of dentists working together in professional associations.

"Organized dentistry is important for our community and to make our voices heard," she said. "And involvement ultimately results in better care for our patients."

Andrea Biondo DMD (D'00) advises dental students to learn from their experiences, such as she did with her associateship positions.

"I might have had the textbook knowledge and some clinical knowledge, but the real learning experiences came from watching, speaking with, and working with more experienced dentists," she said.

Robert Leland DMD (D'01) encourages dental students to keep up with continuing education after graduation.

"There is still more to learn," he said. "The sooner you get out there to learn, the better you can practice."

Jennifer Fallon DMD (D'04) has chosen to focus on public health and community dentistry. Her interest in it was cultivated while working at an externship in Colorado, treating migrant farmers.

"It was there that I realized dental care should not be a privilege; it is a necessity," she said. "I wanted to make a small difference and decided to apply for a position in a health clinic."

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