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The University of Tennessee Health Science Center Realigns Dental Hygiene Department Under College of Dentistry

dental hygiene photo
Founded in 1926, the Department of Dental Hygiene at UTHSC is one of the earliest units established in the country to teach dental hygiene.

Anyone who has ever spent time in a dentist’s chair knows the value of a well-trained dental hygienist. Many of Tennessee’s dental hygienists learned their skills in the Department of Dental Hygiene at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Allied Health Sciences. Effective July 1, UTHSC Dental Hygiene will be realigned under the UTHSC College of Dentistry, the oldest dental college in the South and the third-oldest public college of dentistry in the United States.

By July 1, the seven full-time faculty, 16 adjunct faculty and four staff members of the department will relocate across campus from their 930 Madison Avenue offices to the Dunn Dental Building at 875 Union Avenue. The leadership of the Dental Hygiene program will remain in place, reporting to John D. Seeberg, DDS, assistant dean for Clinical Affairs in the College of Dentistry.

“We recognized that consolidating the Dental Hygiene Department under the College of Dentistry has the potential to achieve more efficient use of academic, physical and financial resources,” said UTHSC Chancellor Steve J. Schwab, MD.

“For Dental Hygiene students, the College of Dentistry is where their clinical education is housed. Clinical education is a huge part of the undergraduate curriculum. It’s, therefore, a more logical alignment. The program will be where their resources are located,” said Dean Noma Anderson, PhD, who leads the College of Allied Health Sciences.

“Future generations of dentists working side by side with future dental hygienists in the same college seems like a natural fit. We know our students, faculty and staff, who are all engaged in varying aspects of this highly sought-after profession, will appreciate the added proximity and ease of studying and training together.” said Dean Timothy Hottel, DDS, MS, MBA, who leads the UTHSC College of Dentistry.

Dental hygienists work with people of all ages to help prevent and treat dental disease. Working with dentists, dental hygienists carefully monitor the oral health status of their patients and intervene, as necessary, with a variety of therapeutic services. Every year UTHSC Dental Hygiene students contribute 2,300 hours of services and care to underserved children through the Urban Smiles initiative. Founded in 1926, the department is one of the earliest units established in the country to teach dental hygiene. In 2004, the department developed the first Master’s of Dental Hygiene program, the only online graduate program curriculum dedicated to preparing dental hygienists to serve as faculty and educational administrators. Currently there are 53 undergraduate and 22 graduate students enrolled in the UTHSC Department of Dental Hygiene, which awards both Bachelor of Science and Master’s degrees.

Founded in 1878, the UT College of Dentistry maintains a four-year dental program totaling approximately 360 students. In addition, approximately 60 residents are enrolled in postgraduate dental programs. The college is dedicated to providing professional, graduate and postgraduate education; conducting dental research; and delivering state-of-the-art patient care and public service. The college’s clinics provide more than 52,000 patient visits per year to support oral health care in the community. These services typically cost less than the fees of a private dental office. More than 75 percent of the dentists practicing in Tennessee were educated and trained at the UT College of Dentistry in Memphis.

As Tennessee’s only public, statewide, academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region, by pursuing an integrated program of education, research, clinical care, and public service. Offering a broad range of postgraduate and selected baccalaureate training opportunities, the main UTHSC campus is located in Memphis and includes six colleges: Allied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. UTHSC also educates and trains cohorts of medicine, pharmacy and/or allied health students — in addition to medical residents and fellows — at its major sites in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville. Founded in 1911, during its more than 100 years, UT Health Science Center has educated and trained more than 56,000 health care professionals in academic settings and health care facilities across the state. For more information, visit www.uthsc.edu.