D.M.D. Curriculum

As a part of a curriculum revision process, the D18 class has entered a curriculum called the Tufts 2020 Oral Health Curriculum. As a part of this revision new competencies were developed:

TUSDM Competency Statements for the Contemporary Dental Graduate

The Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) general dentist must be:

  1. Knowledgeable in biomedical, behavioral and oral health sciences and dental clinical care, and their interrelationship through evidence;
  2. A skilled communicator, health advocate and compassionate caregiver;
  3. A professional, behaving ethically and being a valuable member of a team;
  4. A life-long learner, improving based on practice and quality improvement principles;
  5. A knowledgeable member of the health care system, understanding its organization and economics and able to lead when indicated.

The competencies that were developed are to be applied to a diverse population of patients including children, adolescents, adults and geriatric and individuals with special needs.

The competencies were organized into the following areas:

  1. Diagnosis
  2. Treatment Planning
  3. Treatment
    1. Emergency Management
    2. Oral Health Promotion
    3. Prevention of Pain and Anxiety
    4. Malocclusion and Space Management
    5. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Therapy
    6. Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology and Radiology
    7. Endodontic Therapy
    8. Operative and Prosthetic Therapy
    9. Periodontal Therapy
  4. Community Involvement
  5. Practice Management
  6. Ethics and Professionalism
  7. Information Management and Critical Thinking

Basic Sciences

The curriculum is structured in a way that during the first two years students are exposed to didactic information spanning the basic concepts of Biochemistry, Histology, Gross Anatomy, Immunology and Physiology that emphasize how systems in the body are supposed to work followed by courses in Medicine and Infectious Disease, Basic Human and Oral Pathology which emphasize what can go wrong. In lectures given by dentists, basic scientists from the Medical and Sackler Schools and physicians from Tufts Medical Center (TMC) that describe various disease states, emphasis is given to how these conditions can impact oral health and what modifications to normal dental care in terms of chair side management and use of analgesics, antibiotics and anesthetics may be required in the management of patients presenting with these health issues (Pharmacology).

Behavioral Sciences

The behavioral sciences include the areas of professionalism, communication and how to manage patients with diverse backgrounds, patients of different ages and patients with anxiety.

The School structures the behavioral sciences curriculum as an integrated part of many courses and programs throughout all four years of the dental school curriculum.  The implementation of behavioral science principles is recognized as being fundamental to the successful practice of dentistry and therefore is repeated and stressed throughout the various contextual elements of the curriculum.


Professional behavior on the part of the student, faculty and staff is emphasized throughout years 1 through 4.  It is introduced in Ethics and Professionalism in year 1. The Ethics, Professionalism and Citizenship (EPC) Committee reinforces the importance of professional behavior.

Communication/culturally competent care

As a part of the curriculum revision a new course called Introduction to the Dental Patient (IDP I) has been introduced in AY 2014.  This series will continue into years 2 and 3 as IDP II and IDP III and will build on how our students/practitioners should communicate with a diverse group of patients and staff.

In the Microbiology/Oral Health Promotion (OHP) OHP course, several lectures highlight aspects of diversity in dentistry. The lecture on interviewing and communications skills highlights the importance of acceptance and non-judgmentalism as essential to helping people understand and change habits. Other classes include:  “Health Communication and Dentistry: An Overview”  “Dental Public Health: Oral Health Disparities”, “Management of the Special Needs Dental Patient”  and “Preventive Management of Medically Compromised Patients.” 

In Oral Health Promotion/Nutrition Seminar in year 2 students are introduced to understanding applied oral health promotion dental care as it relates to people with special health care needs. A faculty member who works primarily with special needs clients in one of Tufts’ external dental facilities leads the seminar. This case-based seminar provides an interactive discussion of how to overcome barriers to effective oral health promotion care for special adults and children. Behavioral management techniques are stressed, along with guidelines for appropriate age and condition-specific preventive care.

The Medicine courses Medicine I, II (Year 1 and Year 2) are introduce students to the idea of cultural competence and the influence of culture on health and illness behaviors; communication with patients in a culturally sensitive manner is also emphasized from the beginning of the first year of the curriculum.

Clinical Sciences

The didactic and preclinical portion of the clinical sciences are taught from year 1 through year 3 with seminars and rotations in year 4.  In year one the students learn dental anatomy and craniofacial function; this is followed with operative dentistry where students begin to learn technical skills.  The didactic/preclinical sciences build with courses in Operative Dentistry, Dental Anatomy, Craniofacial Function, Orthodontics, Endodontics, Periodontology, Prosthetics, Endodontics, Oral Pathlogy, Oral Radiology, Pediatric Dentistry and Oral Surgery in years 2 and 3.  The integration of the clinical sciences is coordinated through the two Introduction to the Dental Patient Courses (IDP I and IDP II).


In 2014 the students from each class were involved in a seminar series called the Basic Science/Clinical Science Spiral Seminar Series. (BaSiCSsss). The Basic Science/Clinical Science Spiral Seminar Series (BaSiCSsss) involves students from each year of the curriculum in a patient-based case presentation/discussion. Patient cases are used to present patient-centered clinical information (medical and dental findings, clinical and radiographic findings, etiology, diagnosis, treatment planning). Each student from each year will be responsible for a certain component of each case (third year-evidence based dentistry, second year-abnormal conditions, first year-normal conditions). Each student  attends four seminars including the one that they present at.

Clinical Work

Students begin seeing patients in April/May of their second year.  They work in group practices where they work with “Practice coordinators”-faculty who oversee overall treatment and progress of the students.  Students work with faculty from different disciplines to provide comprehensive care.  Students also rotate through various specialty clinics in the school.  Students provide care to patients in extramural sites for five weeks in community health centers.  They also rotate to clinics in the community to see special needs patients and pediatric patients.


Students are exposed to research in a course called “Introduction to Research”.  Most students work on their research during the summer between years one and two.  Many students present their work at national meetings.

Global Oral Health

Students are involved in several global health initiatives in Africa, the Caribbean and South America.