From Innovation to Inclusion: Touro Dental's Approach to Modern Dentistry

Merging Cutting-Edge Technology with a Heart for Service, TCDM Prepares Students to Become Leaders

April 12, 2024
Touro College of Dental Medicine (TCDM) students look at an x-ray as they work together to provide excellent dental care.
Touro College of Dental Medicine (TCDM) students work together to provide excellent dental care.

When Touro College of Dental Medicine (TCDM) opened in 2016, it was the first new dental school to open in New York State in 50 years—and the very first dental school under Jewish auspices in the world, outside of Israel. These two core foundations shine through in the school’s commitments to modern innovation, as well as to service and social justice.

TCDM is focused on preparing the next generation of outstanding dental professionals to deliver excellent, cutting-edge care to a diverse mix of patients, especially those who need it most. “Whether it be those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, those who are intellectually or developmentally disadvantaged—those individuals are the ones who are lacking the most access to care,” says Dr. Ronnie Myers, professor and dean at TCDM.

Providing Excellent Dental Care to Underserved Regions 

This philosophy is what guided TCDM to open its newest clinical facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This region has one of the lowest dentist-to-population ratios in the country, and Touro Dental Health will be the first dental school clinic in the state. This new facility will give students an even broader background of clinical experience while providing local residents with easier access to quality care. The facility is set to open in the spring of 2025.

Training Practitioners to be Empathetic and Inclusive 

The school is also dedicated to helping people with developmental disabilities who struggle to access dental care. Wait times for specialized care can be long, and it can be difficult for patients to describe what they’re experiencing, leading to pain and confusion. Through fellowships, scholarships and institutional partnerships, TCDM encourages students to learn about and address health disparities, like the ones that impact patients with disabilities. Thanks to this training and outreach, one Touro Dental patient’s mother says that her daughter “no longer dreads appointments.”

Innovating the Future of Dental Care with Technology and Hands-On Clinical Experience 

In all their programs and initiatives, TCDM is committed to utilizing the latest technology and innovations. “The technical landscape of dentistry is dramatically changing,” says Dr. Myers. As a young institution founded in the digital age, TCDM has been able to integrate healthcare-improving technologies “from the ground up.” In the Touro Dental Health Clinic and the state-of-the-art Konikoff Digital Dental Studio, students learn how to use digital scans to create perfectly fitted crowns and even detect oral cancer. They practice using the latest 3-D printers and milling machines, equipping them to deliver dental care that would typically take multiple appointments in just one day.

TCDM students understand the value of this hands-on access to groundbreaking technology, and in the clinic, they see firsthand how these tools can be leveraged to treat advanced and complex cases. Rachel Sebastian, a fourth-year dental student and president of TCDM’s Student Government Association, says that when she first began researching dental schools, she found that the amount of clinical experience students get “varies a lot.” TCDM’s focus on pre-doctoral DDS candidates, rather than post-graduate programs, means that students are exposed to more diverse and complex cases. “The opportunities in the clinic are wonderful.” she says.

“The fact that we’re able to take on these cases, and that we have really supportive faculty to help guide us and teach us every step of the way, it’s a really great combination.”

At Touro Dental Health, under the guidance of expert faculty, students learn to care for patients in all dental specialties including pediatric dentistry, endodontics, orthodontics, oral surgery, oral facial pain and implants.

Looking Forward While Giving Back

Outside of the clinic, community service is a graduation requirement, but “it doesn’t feel like a chore,” Sebastian says. “It’s really nice to be able to give back in some way.” For nearly two years, Sebastian has been making monthly food deliveries to a local community member through the Hillside Food Outreach Program. “This has reinforced the importance of providing empathy and support to those in need, which is essential as a future dental practitioner,” she says.

TCDM is delivering on its mission. The school’s integrated national board examination success rate is at 100%. Graduates are successfully matching with some of the best residency programs in the country, at a rate well above the national average. TCDM’s applicant pool is “robust,” Dr. Myers says, and grows every year. Almost 1 in 5 applicants to dental school now apply to Touro—an impressive achievement for a school less than 10 years old. TCDM’s distinctive combination of technical excellence and service-oriented heart will continue to empower future dental professionals for generations to come.