High School Students Explore Dentistry
High School Students Explore Dentistry

Explore Dentistry

Exploring Dentistry Program

For more than 40 years, Omaha-area high school students interested in pursuing a career in dentistry have been taking part in Creighton University School of Dentistry’s Exploring Dentistry Program, a 10-week introduction to the profession.

The program focuses on different aspects of dentistry with specialist presentations and hands-on projects. Each year about 25 students come to learn from area schools including Creighton Prep, Millard West, Millard South, Omaha South, Bellevue West and Gretna.

Creighton faculty lead the sessions, which take place on Monday evenings in the fall. Dental anatomy, oral diagnosis and radiology, removable prosthodontics, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, operative dentistry, periodontics, gross and micro-human anatomy are some of the topics discussed during the program.  

Dental anatomy is led by faculty members Jenn Hasslen, DDS’03 and Scott Radniecki, DDS’12, assistant professors of general dentistry. Students carve a tooth out of wax to learn the various contours of teeth.

Oral diagnosis and radiology is facilitated by Tim Walker, DDS’85, assistant professor of diagnostic sciences, where students get to take a set of digital radiographs on each other.

Jared Smith, DDS, associate professor of prosthodontics, guides students on taking impressions on each other.

During the endodontics session, students prepare and fill a root canal tooth alongside Thomas Beeson, DDS, associate professor of endodontics.

David Williams, DDS, associate professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery demonstrates and assists students in practicing taking a pulse, monitoring blood pressure and performing suturing.

Students get to work again with Dr. Radniecki in the operative dentistry session, restoring a tooth with silver filling.

As the students move through the different sessions they get to work directly on removing calculus in the dental school’s simulation lab for periodontics, working with Laura Harris-Vieyra, DDS, assistant professor of periodontics.

Towards the end of the 10-week session, students work with Scott DiLorenzo, DDS’77, associate professor of prosthodontics, and Terry Wilwerding, DDS’77, professor of prosthodontics, during fixed prosthodontics, taking part in dental investment and casting.

Finally, in the gross and micro-human anatomy sessions, students identify hard and soft tissues under a microscope with assistance from Laura Barritt, PhD, Margaret Jergenson, DDS’82, and Barbara O’Kane, PhD, associate professors of oral biology.

“It has been an honor for the Creighton School of Dentistry to open up our school to the high school students that are interested in dentistry,” said Joseph Franco Jr., DDS’84, program director and assistant director of clinics. “We try and show the students the many diverse specialties in dentistry and allow the students hands-on exposure to the many facets of dentistry.”

For more information about future programs, contact Dr. Franco at josephfranco [at] creighton [dot] edu.