dentistry

Forming Alliances to Build a Better Care Model

In her first year as dean of the UConn School of Dental Medicine, Dr. Sharon Gordon seeks to apply the concept of interprofessional learning to shape the future of health care.

Cloe Poisson, Copyright © 2019. Hartford Courant. Used with permission.
Cloe Poisson, Copyright © 2019. Hartford Courant. Used with permission.


As medicine moves toward an integrated approach to care, UConn’s new dental dean sees a greater role for dental medicine in the delivery of that care, and a strong foundation already in place to make that happen.

Dr. Sharon Gordon, who arrived from the East Carolina School of Dental Medicine last summer, says it’s part of what drew her to UConn: more broadly, the rich history of partnership between the medical and dental schools, but notably the basic sciences curriculum they share in the first two years, focusing on interprofessional training.

“We’re perfectly poised to move to the next steps, which would be providing clinical care together,” she says. “The idea is students moving into the clinics together, learning how to take care of patients together, so when they graduate they will be prepared for interprofessional practice.”

The evidence shows that more comprehensive care of the patient gives better health outcomes overall.

Health care financing already is trending toward a more holistic view of the patient and greater emphasis on outcomes; a next step is recognition of the connection between oral health and
overall health, Gordon says.

“Thinking about dentistry and where it is on the spectrum of reimbursement, if we don’t embrace that, we’re going to be left behind,” Gordon says. “But more importantly, the evidence shows that more comprehensive care of the patient gives better health outcomes overall.”

To help UConn Health get there, Gordon wants to continue building on the concept of students working in group-practice clusters in the clinic. A program fittingly known as CONNcept (Connecticut Comprehensive Education and Practice Team), established under the leadership of Gordon’s predecessor, Dr. R. Lamont “Monty” MacNeil, aims to simulate a true practice setting. As part of this, Gordon’s vision also includes incorporating nursing students, students from Tunxis Community College’s dental hygienist program, and, eventually, expanded-function dental assistants. Collectively, these disciplines can train together and, ultimately, practice together, improving patient outcomes through this new model of care.

UConn Health Offers Largest Emergency Dental Service in CT

patient in dental chair

UConn Health sees an average of 60 dental emergencies in a 24-hour period.


Dental emergencies can strike at any time. That’s why UConn Health has offered around-the-clock coverage for dental emergencies since the early 1970s and recently opened a specialized patient room within the new emergency department at UConn John Dempsey Hospital.

“We have the largest dental emergency service in the state,” says Dr. Steven Lepowsky, senior associate dean for education and patient care at the UConn School of Dental Medicine. “The service exists to address a significant unmet need.”

Even those who receive regular dental care can face emergency situations at any time. On average, UConn Health sees nearly 60 dental emergencies in 24 hours. The most common are toothaches related
to a cavity, root canal, or abscess.

On weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., urgent dental care is provided by students and residents from the UConn School of Dental Medicine who staff UConn Health’s dental clinics under faculty supervision.

The training component makes the emergency dental service a crucial piece of the dental school’s academic mission.

The service exists to address a significant unmet need.

“It helps the students and residents build skills in terms of how to diagnose a problem quickly, identify the source of the problem, and provide care that immediately addresses someone’s needs,” Lepowsky says.
After 10 p.m., patients who present with a dental emergency are assessed by medical staff, who can bring in the dental resident on call, if necessary.

Although the hours are nothing new, the after-hours setting is.

The new room and dental chair “replicate a full dental operatory, so it expanded the scope of what we could offer on an emergency basis after hours,” Lepowsky says. “It’s a much more pleasant environment for the patient.”

It’s not, however, meant to replace primary dental care, according to Lepowsky.

Sometimes, after-hours care involves just relieving pain and sending the patient home, asking them to return in the morning when the dental clinics open for a specific dental treatment.

“You want someone to have an established relationship with a dental provider so there’s someone coordinating all their annual dental health care and maintenance needs,” Lepowsky says.

The Doctors Are In – Winter 2015

UConn Health welcomes the following new physicians:


Ridhi Bansal, MD

Specialties: Internal Medicine, Primary Care
Location: Canton


Philip M. Blumenshine, MD, MAS., M.Sc.

Psychiatry Emergency Department Medical Director

Specialty: Psychiatry
Locations: Farmington


Ethan I. Bortniker, MD

Specialty: Colon Cancer Prevention, Gastroenterology
Location: Farmington


Tilahun Gemtessa, MD, M.Sc.

Specialty: Infectious Diseases
Location: Farmington


Matthew Imperioli, MD

Specialty: Neurology
Location: Farmington


Neha Jain, MD

Specialty: Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry
Location: Farmington


David Karimeddini, MD

Specialty: Radiology
Location: Farmington


Hsung Lin, DMD

Specialty: Family Dentistry
Location: Storrs Center


Janice Oliveri, MD

Specialty: Internal Medicine
Location: Farmington


Houman Rezaizadeh, MD

Specialty: Gastroenterology
Location: Farmington


Bernardo Rodrigues, MD

Speciaty: Neurology
Location: Farmington


Lenora S. Williams, MD

Specialty: Obstetrics and Gynecology, Women’s Health
Location: Storrs Center


Visit UConn Health’s online physician directory for information about all our specialists.