University of Oklahoma Announces State’s First Pediatric Dentistry Residency Program
Published: Tuesday, September 5, 2023
OKLAHOMA CITY – The University of Oklahoma announced today plans to begin the state’s first pediatric dentistry residency. This highly-specialized two-year program will be offered through the OU College of Dentistry and will be integrated into the overall health care team at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital OU Health. The program in pediatric dentistry is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and has been granted the accreditation status of “initial accreditation.”
The program will provide pediatric dental care to a variety of patients, including those who have special needs or who have mental health or medical conditions, as well as typically-developing children. Residents, under the direction of skilled pediatric dental faculty, will work closely with the physician staff to provide comprehensive dental care within a variety of medical and dental situations.
“The OU College of Dentistry is excited to add pediatric dentistry to our advanced graduate and residency programs,” said Paul M. Mullasseril, D.D.S., M.S., dean of the OU College of Dentistry. “Oral health is an essential component of one’s overall health, and healthy habits begin early in one’s life. This program will help the college fulfill our mission of improving the oral health of Oklahomans by expanding access to care for some of our state’s most vulnerable patients.”
The basis for this residency program stems from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center’s Strategic Plan to expand access to affordable oral health care, reduce health disparities and meet the health care workforce demands of the state. Currently, Oklahoma ranks 49th in the nation in access to dental care. According to the Oklahoma Oral Health Coalition, children of all ages from Oklahoma experience a higher rate of tooth decay and more untreated cavities compared to national averages.
The national ratio of pediatric dentists to children in the United States is approximately nine pediatric dentists per 100,000 children. In Oklahoma, there are an estimated six pediatric dentists per 100,000 children, according to a report in the Journal of the American Dental Association. Further, 66 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties are classified as shortage areas for dental health care providers. These factors create barriers and undue burden particularly on children from rural areas, children with special health care needs, minorities and children from low-income households.
“As the State of Oklahoma’s only professional dental education program, the OU College of Dentistry is well-positioned to lead the state in expanding access to affordable oral health care,” said Gary Raskob, Ph.D., senior vice president and provost for the OU Health Sciences Center. “This pediatric dental residency will have significant impact on addressing the oral health care needs among children and on the workforce demand for pediatric dentists in our state.”
Additionally, the OU College of Dentistry has named David Ciesla, D.D.S., M.S., M.A.S., as director of the pediatric dental residency program. Ciesla earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Baylor College of Dentistry in 2003. Upon graduation, Ciesla joined the U.S. Army, serving overseas in Germany and Iraq. After his deployment, he returned to Baylor to complete a two-year residency in pediatric dentistry. Following eight years in the Army, Ciesla moved to Arkansas and worked in a private dental practice before joining the faculty at the OU College of Dentistry in 2021.
“I am incredibly excited and honored to lead the graduate pediatric dental residency program at the OU College of Dentistry,” said Ciesla. “The demand for specialized pediatric dental services in Oklahoma is significant, making the training of pediatric dentists crucial for improving the oral health of children in the state. As the program director, I am personally dedicated to the resident’s success and growth as we work together to shape the future of pediatric dentistry and make a lasting difference in the lives of our young patients.”
OU’s new graduate pediatric dental residency program is slated to begin in July 2024. The OU College of Dentistry will begin accepting applications for its inaugural class of residents beginning this October.
The program will include a curriculum comprised of seminars, clinical training, hospital and medical rotations, research, teaching and advocacy experiences. Residents will gain experience working in collaboration with other pediatric medicine specialties and rotations including anesthesiology, pediatric medicine, operating room, inpatient care, emergency room, treatment of patients with special needs, private practice rotation, cleft lip and cleft palate clinic and oral surgery clinic.
“The OU College of Dentistry has earned a long-standing reputation for excellence,” Ciesla said. “With the unwavering support of both college and university administration, as well as OU Health and the medical community, I am confident that this residency program will have an important impact on children’s oral health in our state.”