Tufts University School of Dental Medicine was established in 1868 as Boston Dental College, and was incorporated into Tufts College in 1899. Today, Tufts is renowned throughout the United States and the world as a center for academic and clinical excellence. Tufts boasts more than seven thousand alumni composed of individuals from all fifty states and thirty-nine countries. Students receive a comprehensive education that emphasizes the importance of didactic coursework, pre-clinical training, clinical experience, and practice management that prepares them to enter the workforce as confident, proficient clinicians.
The Tufts University School of Dental Medicine general dentist must be:
- Knowledgeable in biomedical, behavioral, and oral health sciences and dental clinical care, and their interrelationship through evidence;
- A skilled communicator, health advocate, and compassionate caregiver;
- A professional, behaving ethically and being a valuable member of a team;
- A lifelong learner, improving based on practice and quality improvement principles;
- A knowledgeable member of the healthcare 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:
- Treatment Planning
- Emergency Management
- Oral Health Promotion
- Prevention of Pain and Anxiety
- Malocclusion and Space Management
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Therapy
- Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology and Radiology
- Endodontic Therapy
- Operative and Prosthetic Therapy
- Periodontal Therapy
- Community Involvement
- Practice Management
- Ethics and Professionalism
- Information Management and Critical Thinking
- Basic Sciences
The basic science curriculum commences in August with courses in Dental Anatomy/Craniofacial Function and Introduction to Research. From September through December, students are exposed to basic concepts in biochemistry and nutrition as well as clinical (gross) anatomy which provides a detailed study of the body’s structure through lectures and cadaver dissections. In the second term, the curriculum is systems based. Topics are approached from multiple disciplines including histology, physiology, medicine, pathology, pharmacology, immunology, and infectious diseases. Lectures are presented by basic scientists from the School of Medicine and the Tufts Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, dentists from the School of Dental Medicine, and physicians from Tufts Medical Center who integrate information relating to normal structure and function of the body with that of various disease states and their potential impact on chairside management of patients.
Courses in the integrated curriculum include introductions to structure and function of the body’s tissues and the mechanisms of drug action (Tissue Biology). A course titled Tissue Injury and Host Defense combines lectures in infectious disease, pathophysiology of wound healing, immunology, and pharmacology to cover the body’s inherent responses to infection as well as the use of therapeutic agents. The remaining integrated courses explore the major organ systems, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal, and endocrine. Course content is presented in a variety of formats including traditional lectures, interactive (flipped) classrooms, and case presentations.
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.
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 being non-judgmental 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 healthcare 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.
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 1 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 Pathology, 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 Basic Science/Clinical Science Spiral Seminar Series (BaSiCSsss). This series 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.
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 1 and 2. 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.
We offer qualified candidates two combined-degree programs that pair your D.M.D. degree with a master's degree in Public Health or a master's degree in Science in Dental Research. Second-year students at Tufts University can also enter our early assurance program to complete their bachelor of science degree and D.M.D. degree in eight years. The TUSDM Pre-Dental Non-Degree (PDND) program is designed to offer a unique opportunity for dental school applicants whose academic credentials are not strong enough for admissions to the TUSDM DMD program.