Assistant surgeon general praises college

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Rear Admiral Timothy Ricks, assistant surgeon general and chief dental officer for the U.S. Public Health Service, visited the College of Dentistry on Feb. 11 to meet faculty, staff and students and tour the college, including the new clinical and virtual simulation laboratory, digital design studio and updated classrooms.

"I am amazed by the UNMC College of Dentistry's learning environment. I've visited 25 schools and residency programs and this college has the most advanced learning technology I've seen. The iWall is a public health educator's dream," Ricks said. He also toured the patient care clinics and learned about the college's community outreach efforts, including the upcoming Children's Dental Day.

Ricks' visit included a presentation to the college community on the forthcoming 2020 Surgeon General's Report on Oral Health which describes key issues that currently affect the nation's oral health and identifies challenges and opportunities.

"It was an honor to have Rear Admiral Ricks share with us updates on national efforts to promote oral health and eliminate oral health disparities, including efforts to change Americans' perceptions of oral health and replicate effective programs, such as the Nebraska Teeth Forever program," said Janet Guthmiller, DDS, PhD, dean of the UNMC College of Dentistry.

Ricks drew attention to large-scale issues that have affected the nation's oral health in the past 20 years, including the aging population, substance abuse trends and e-cigarette use, and discussed how the forthcoming Surgeon General's report will articulate promising new directions for improving oral health equity across communities.

Throughout his presentation, Ricks reminded the college community how important it is as current and future oral health professionals to stay informed about, and participate in, local and national efforts to promote oral health and overcome health disparities.

"I wanted to open people's eyes to opportunities to join in the collective effort to improve our nation's oral health," Ricks said.

The college community found Ricks' presentation empowering.

Shelby Brown, a first-year dental student, said, "Rear Admiral Ricks inspired me to make a difference, especially to take part in helping to eliminate oral health disparities and stay informed about national oral health issues."