Newswise – EL PASO, Texas – As newest members of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine’s world-class faculty, Professor Angela C. Chi, DMD, and Associate Dean for Research Ana Karina Mascarenhas, BDS, MPH, Dr.PH, FDS RCPS (Glasg), establishes a solid educational foundation for dental students in the school.
The Hunt School of Dental Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso welcomed its first class of 40 students in the summer of 2021. Drs. Chi and Mascarenhas are part of a group of talented teachers who will help lead El Paso and the region into a new era of dental care.
Angela C. Chi, DMD
Dr. Chi brings 20 years of experience and is board certified in Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, a specialty of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the teeth, mucous membranes, soft tissues, bones, joints. joints, glands and skin around the mouth.
“Oral and maxillofacial pathology represents a relatively small specialty of dentistry and pathology, with only about 300 diplomats actively practicing in the United States,” said Dr. Chi, the only oral pathologist in a radius of more than 400 miles from the El Paso area. “Currently, the distribution of dentists in our state is uneven, and underserved populations in the border region carry a heavy burden of oral disease. This includes inflammatory, benign and malignant conditions. The ability to provide unique and specialized services will be of great benefit in meeting the oral health needs of our community.
While a general pathologist can help with pathology services in the head and neck area, oral and maxillofacial pathologists have a unique understanding of pathology and clinical dentistry. Dr. Chi’s scope of practice includes microscopic diagnosis and direct clinical patient care. To better serve the urgent needs of the El Paso community, she is establishing an oral pathology biopsy service and patient consultation service at the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic. Clinic patients receive reduced rates for oral health care from faculty and students at the Hunt School of Dental Medicine.
Dr. Chi received a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from Harvard School of Dental Medicine in 1998 and completed a residency in Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology at Emory School of Medicine. Prior to entering oral and maxillofacial pathology, she served in the United States Navy Dental Corps while completing advanced training in the general dentistry program. She then practiced as a general dentist for two years in Yokosuka, Japan, where she treated sailors aboard the USS Kitty Hawk.
“Our primary mission was to ensure dental readiness, which meant that no major oral health issues would interfere with sea deployments,” Dr Chi said. “I learned many valuable lessons about service, sacrifice, duty, and adapting to change. A unique aspect of my position was working with people from diverse backgrounds, including officers and military from different regions of the United States and Japanese civilians.
When Dr. Chi changed her career path from general dentistry to oral pathology, her experience as a general dentist gave her a full understanding of the clinical aspects of patient care. Now she will use this comprehensive experience to help students understand the connection between oral health and systemic health.
In addition to his clinical experience, Dr. Chi has co-authored over 100 publications, including “Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology”, a textbook widely used in schools in the United States and abroad. She is currently working on the next edition of the World Health Organization’s “Classification of Head and Neck Tumours”, a reference work used by oncologists and pathologists around the world.
Dr. Chi is a director of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, where she participates in certification examinations for dentists entering the specialty.
For Dr. Chi, the Hunt School of Dental Medicine is a good choice. The Dental Learning Center, which includes 80 stations equipped with high-tech simulation manikins and a fabrication lab, keeps students abreast of the changing future of dentistry.
“There has been an explosion of technology, which is changing the way we provide all aspects of oral health care,” Dr Chi said. “In providing dental education, we have always emphasized the need for lifelong learning and the ability to provide evidence-based care. However, these skills will become even more important as our field evolves more rapidly in the future.
Ana Karina Mascarenhas, BDS, MPH, Dr.PH, FDS RCPS (Glasg)
Dr. Mascarenhas joins the Hunt School of Dental Medicine with a strong background in public health and a desire to bring culturally competent care to patients in the border region. She plans to provide this care by utilizing opportunities for innovation within the school and community.
“When you bring together an innovative, interprofessional curriculum with a public health focus, you are better able to see the need and address it,” Dr. Mascarenhas said. “A crucial part of this is understanding the health conditions that can impact oral health.”
Diabetes, a common health condition in El Paso, is a major risk factor for gum disease. In El Paso County, 15% of adults have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to the most recent data available from the Texas Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
Another big concern in the El Paso community is obesity, which has common risk factors associated with tooth decay and cavities.
“Training dental students to talk with patients about obesity and diabetes, and providing families with the knowledge and resources to improve healthy eating, physical activity, and how our oral health is.” related to overall health is important as we build our program,” Dr. Mascarenhas mentioned. “It’s something we’re focused on alongside our students and our community.”
Dr. Mascarenhas wasted no time responding to the needs she saw in the community soon after arriving in El Paso. When she learned that refugees in the area needed supplies such as diapers, baby wipes and baby food, she immediately bought items for the families and then shared their stories with her colleagues. This inspired a supply campaign, and within a short time, it focused its efforts on their dental needs.
“I could see a clear need and had the opportunity to help meet it,” Dr. Mascarenhas said. After approaching the Hunt School of Dental Medicine, she arranged for dental students to see and treat the refugees. “It was amazing. In the first three months of their training, they were treating patients. It’s an example of the impact of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine.
Dr. Mascarenhas continued to communicate with families and bring them comfort items, such as ice cream and painkillers. At one point, she joined a family for tea in their room, an honorable invitation which she says would not have happened had she not sought out the needs around her.
Dr. Mascarenhas received his Bachelor of Dental Surgery from Goa Dental College and Hospital in Goa, India, and his Masters in Public Health and Doctorate in Public Health from the University of Michigan. She is a Diplomat of the American Board of Dental Public Health and Vice President of the Council of Scientific Affairs of the American Dental Association. She was president and executive director of the American Board of Dental Public Health and past president of the American Association for Public Health Dentistry. She was also a commissioner of the Commission on Dental Accreditation. She is the editor of the recently published 7th edition of Burt and Eklund’s Dentistry, Dental Practice, and the Community.
“I’m excited about the opportunity of this region, especially as I learn more about the region every week,” said Dr. Mascarenhas. “This space so close to the border allows us all to live in harmony and collaborate in unique circumstances.”