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New leader at Case in ceramic dentistry envisions taking dental education to higher notch of excellence

Story photoCase Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine’s new department chair, Dr. Avishai Sadan, D.M.D., smiles as he leafs through dental journals that show before and after photos of patients who have had veneer or crown work. Sadan, a leader in dental ceramics, shows his enthusiasm for giving patients that perfect smile.

“It’s just amazing. You cannot tell the original teeth from the ones with veneers,” said Sadan about the new ceramics available for dental restorations.

In implementing major redesigns to its dental curriculum, Case enlisted Sadan, the editor-in-chief of two leading international dental journals (Quintessence International and Quintessence of Dental Technology), to head its new department of restorative and general dentistry.

Sadan, 43, joined the Case dental faculty this fall after serving as a faculty member at the department of prosthodontics at Louisiana State University School of Dentistry for the past seven years. He earned his doctorate of dental medicine at Hebrew University Hadassah School of Dental Medicine in Jerusalem, Israel, where he also completed an internship in maxillofacial prosthodontics and oral medicine. Sadan completed a postgraduate program in prosthodontics and a fellowship in prosthodontics with an emphasis on esthetic and implant dentistry at LSU.

The Case dental school recruited Sadan to head the new department, which is a merger of two others that had focused on classroom learning/preclinical education and the dental school’s third- and fourth-year clinical experiences. Under his leadership, Sadan will coordinate an educational continuum from the first to the last day of dental school.

“With the marriage of the two departments, we have the ability to do all these exciting things. If the department decides to do something, it can take it from the beginning to the end,” stated Sadan.

While the unofficial name of the new department represents the melding of the two former areas at the dental school, its official name will be recommended by the faculty for university-wide approval.

Looking ahead at Case

Sadan chose the field of dentistry as a place to wed his interests in science and art through the clinical and laboratory evaluation of new ceramics for the foundations for veneers, crowns and implant abutments that contain no metal. These ceramics also have the strength to withstand chair-side techniques used by dentists.

At Case, Sadan plans to collaborate with a world renowned leader in the field of ceramics Arthur Heuer, Case's University Professor of Engineering and Kyocera Distinguished Professor of Ceramics.

What attracted him to Case was that Sadan found “a corps of people who are willing and capable of taking an excellent school to a higher notch.”

Instead of just being excellent, Sadan said the school wants to be “ahead of the pack”—the other dental schools in the country. This desire is reflected in the leadership of Dean Jerald Goldberg and the redesign of the entire dental curriculum over the past several years under the direction of Marsha Pyle, associate dean for education, working closely with faculty, according to Sadan.

As part of the curricular changes, Sadan already has some proposed ideas for his department.

Noting that almost every practicing dentist should offer the great benefits of dental implants, he wants that skill—now routine mainly for postgraduate students—to become integrated into the undergraduate program at Case and a new educational standard for undergraduates.

He explained how this could be worked into the curriculum. “One example is that we can support dentures with dental implants. By the time other dental schools make the decision to do this, I want it to be a standard practice for our students,” stated Sadan.

Another change is that today’s practicing dentist uses many time-saving state of the art technologies in their offices. Where possible in the school, he plans to use the industry’s support and install such equipment to allow students to concentrate on refining dental skills and giving them a more realistic view of what their working lives will entail.

“One hundred years ago, there was not enough material to fill four years of dental school. Today we have eight years of information that we need to teach in four years,” said Sadan.

He also proposes to enrich the classroom experience with the help of the preceptors, who are half-time practicing dentists who spend the other half of their working lives advising, mentoring and overseeing the Case students in the clinics.

“I want to get the best of both worlds interacting in the clinic and the classroom,” said Sadan.

“This unique opportunity of working with preceptors, a dedicated group of practicing dentists, is one you don’t get at other dental schools.”

With ideas flowing, he notes that his overall goal is to create an environment that enriches, challenges, stimulates and energizes dental students.

 

About Case Western Reserve University

Case is among the nation's leading research institutions. Founded in 1826 and shaped by the unique merger of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, Case is distinguished by its strengths in education, research, service, and experiential learning. Located in Cleveland, Case offers nationally recognized programs in the Arts and Sciences, Dental Medicine, Engineering, Law, Management, Medicine, Nursing, and Social Work. http://www.case.edu.