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UTHSC College of Dentistry Alumna Tapped as Host for National Dental Conference

Dr. Christina Rosenthal, a UTHSC College of Dentistry alumna, was invited to host the opening and closing sessions of the ADA’s 2022 SmileCon.

The stage at the American Dental Association’s 2022 SmileCon in Houston was a long way from the North Memphis neighborhood where UT Health Science Center alumna Christina Rosenthal, DDS, MPH, grew up.

The national spotlight as a host of the prestigious dental convention did not come for Dr. Rosenthal without a lot of hard work, support from mentors, and a singular dedication to the idea that where you start out is not where you are destined to end up.

Dr. Rosenthal came from a low-income background in Smokey City in North Memphis and graduated from the UTHSC College of Dentistry in 2005. She graduated from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in 2015 with a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in management and policy.

Formerly the owner of Paradigm Dental Center in southeast Memphis, Dr. Rosenthal now owns two companies. Prescribing Inspiration, LLC, is a speaking circuit designed to inspire audiences, and MHD Locum, LLC, provides temporary coverage to dentists.

She is quick to mention the many mentors who helped her along the way. She recalls that she didn’t see a dentist until she was a teenager. Her first dental visits were with Black female dentists, who influenced her career path.

Because she knows firsthand how hard it can be for a student from a disadvantaged background to consider a career in health care, she is committed to helping young underrepresented students achieve.

In 2011, Dr. Rosenthal, with support from UTHSC, created Determined to be a Doctor Someday (DDS), a program to introduce promising underrepresented students to opportunities for careers in health care. At the time, she was participating in the American Dental Association’s Institute for Diversity in Leadership and had to create a community project to complete the program.

In 2019, student Jasmine Jefferson, left, accepted a scholarship check from Dr. Christina Rosenthal and the Determined to be a Doctor Someday program.

An educational and mentoring program for youths ages 14-18, DDS has grown and evolved since then, but retains its focus on increasing diversity of students in health care. Some of Dr. Rosenthal’s early participants have made their way through professional school in various health care fields. There is even a cohort for preschoolers now.

The first session for the 2023 cohort of DDS students is set for January 28 at UTHSC.

Among supporters of DDS is Delta Dental of Tennessee’s President and CEO Philip Wenk, DDS, (UTHSC ’77), chair of the UTHSC Advisory Board. Delta Dental of Tennessee has contributed to the program from its philanthropic arm, the Smile 180 Foundation, to help support the symposiums and aid in planning of future DDS programs. Delta Dental of Tennessee recently gave the program $50,000 in support.

Dr. Rosenthal’s book encourages young children to become doctors.

A wife and mother of three, Dr. Rosenthal is also the author of a children’s book, “You Can Become a Doctor Too.”

The American Dental Association’s SmileCon conference attracts dentists from the United States and around the world. The event took place October 13-15 in Houston.

“It was such an honor to represent my colleagues in the profession of dentistry on the big stage,” Dr. Rosenthal said. She served as a host for the opening and closing sessions and interviewed researcher, storyteller, and author Brené Brown.

“Being a part of the ADA has been a vital part of my professional journey,” she said.