Westchester Gets First New Dental School in Nearly 50 Years

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Dental instruments and tools in a dentists officeThere’s good news for the one in five Americans suffering from one or more untreated cavities in Westchester. The county will soon be able to offer an education in dentistry after nearly 50 years, thanks to the New York State Board of Regents.

New York Medical College (NYMC) has recently received approval from the New York State Board of Regents to open the Touro College of Dental Medicine in Valhalla.

The college will be located in NYMC’s former Skyline Drive Building, which will be completely refurbished with a $2.07 million contribution from the state.

“We decided to push to open New York’s first new dental school in nearly 50 years because of the growing shortage for dentists and dental education throughout the state,” Jay P. Goldsmith, D.M.D. and founding dean of the Touro College of Dental Medicine said. “Although the area has a decent population of dentists, New York State is underserved as a whole.”

While Westchester is preparing for its new dentistry school, professionals in New York City are making use of the Food and Drug Administration’s recent approval of silver diamine fluoride in their offices.

Silver diamine flouride has been approved for use as a tooth de-sensitizing agent in patients 21 and over, but studies have shown that the substance can halt the progression of cavities and even help prevent them.

The liquid is being used as an alternative to painful cavity drilling, especially for children. It can stop tooth decay painlessly, and provide a less traumatic experience for children at the dentist.

“Being able to paint it on in 30 seconds with no noise, no drilling, is better, faster, cheaper,” Dr. Richard Niederman, the chairman of the epidemiology and health promotion department at the New York University College of Dentistry said.

The biggest issue that the liquid has run into is purely aesthetic. Silver diamine fluoride blackens the otherwise brownish color of tooth decay, which isn’t a problem for baby teeth that will fall out. However, most people aren’t so keen on having a visibly discolored tooth.

The inaugural class at the Touro College of Dental Medicine will no doubt be learning how to use this method in the near future.

“Our hope is that students will take an interest in providing dental healthcare to underserved communities — both rural and urban,” Goldsmith said. “In the long-term, the school will create a regional pipeline of dentists who will help enhance dental care in New York State for future generations.”

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