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WVU's first pediatric dentistry residents begin advanced education program

WVU School of Dentistry launches state's only pediatric dentistry residency

WVU's first pediatric dentistry residents begin advanced education program

Dr. Gina Graziani“As of Monday, July 1, 2024, WVU School of Dentistry will begin the state’s first and only advanced education program in pediatric dentistry!”

Dr. Gina Graziani, West Virginia University School of Dentistry chair of Pediatric Dentistry, garnered a round of applause when she officially announced the launch of the school’s new pediatric dentistry residency.

The inaugural Class of 2026 includes Dr. Erin Miller, Dr. Brianna Bevil and Dr. Branson Martin, all WVU School of Dentistry alumni.

Branson Martin, Brianna Bevil, Erin Miller

The three were introduced to dental school faculty, staff, alumni and friends along with WVU leadership and state oral health advocates by Dr. Dami Kim, residency program director, during a reception on Friday. She expressed sincere gratitude for support of the program.

Dr. Dami Kim“As a mother of two and a pediatric dentist, I have to see this as a birth of a program and this child will need continued support. Don’t walk away from our commemoration and forget about us. Keep giving us love and support. I appreciate that,” Kim said.

The program is designed to prepare residents with in-depth knowledge and skills for all aspects of pediatric dentistry practice in both private and hospital settings and to encourage lifelong learning to contribute to the advancement of the profession.

Dr. Stephen Pachuta, seated and President E. Gordon Gee, standing“This is fulfilling our mission. Our land-grant mission is to care for the citizens of the state. It is an opportunity for us to make sure we are providing the best possible resources and help through our education in health care,” WVU President Gordon Gee said.

Pediatric dentists are oral health providers for infants and children through adolescence, including individuals with special health care needs.

Clay Marsh“I think it’s striking to recognize that dental caries, oral disease, is the most common infectious disease of children. In fact, by the time kids are in middle school, about 50 percent will have dental cavities and by the time they graduate from high school over 80 percent will. And, in West Virginia, about 20 percent of those people never see a dentist,” Dr. Clay Marsh, chancellor and executive dean for WVU Health Sciences, said.

According to Graziani, also a WVU dental school graduate, the possibilities of positive change from the development of the program are infinite. She listed:

  • For every graduate who matriculates through the program who enters private practice that provides necessary oral healthcare for children in urban or rural areas. Whose practice provides employment opportunities and growth for their community.
  • For every graduate who enters the hospital setting to provide a possibly missing link in a patient’s achievement of overall, systemic health.
  • For every graduate who enters academia, that influences future generations of mentees and peers,
  • For every graduate that enters public policy forums and organized dentistry to change the landscape of legislature surrounding oral healthcare.

Watch Dr. Graziani’s announcement.

The pediatric dentistry residency is a two-year certificate program consisting of well-balanced didactic instructions and clinical experiences. The didactic part is mostly based at the West Virginia University School of Dentistry. Most of the biomedical courses are online lectures that are self-paced. Clinical science courses are offered by various dental and medical multidisciplinary faculty in formats of seminars and lectures.

See photo albums from the announcement at WVU School of Dentistry SmugMug and WVU Health Sciences SmugMug.