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Why study dental medicine and dental hygiene at UNM?

Dental medicine career information

Dentists play an important role in improving patients’ health and appearance. Dentistry is a dynamic and rewarding profession that offers interesting opportunities and rewarding benefits. If you open a private practice, you can create your own hours and you are not generally subject to the effects of managed care and reductions in federal funding.

We offer a one-year postdoctoral advanced education in general dentistry (AEGD) residency to better serve New Mexico residents. The residency program has many unique features, making it a hybrid between an AEGD residency and a general practice residency.

In our residency program you will learn to provide comprehensive dental care for New Mexico's underserved and medically complex patients, offering clinical diagnosis, treatment, research and resources in the care of these patients. 

Click below to learn about specialties in dentistry that are covered in our residency program. 

  • Understand clinical issues and treatment for older patients, as well relevant demographics and social trends.
  • Address pharmalogical issues affecting dental therapy and gain an understanding of dementia in older people. 
  • Provide dentures and dental therapy for dentures and their care.
  • Handle pediatric emergencies, management of oral infections, recognition of abuse, behavior management, and restorative techniques.
  • Recognize and treat dental malocclusion and space maintenance.
  • Treat patients under sedation or general anesthesia on an outpatient basis.
  • Use oral sedation, nitrous oxide sedation, and parenteral sedation on patients.
  • Treating patients in a hospital/operating room setting.
  • This portion of the residency allows dentists to become comfortable in working with our medical colleagues in the management of dental disease and how a dentist well functions in a hospital setting.
  • Adult and pediatric patients with intellectual or developmental disabilities receive care in the hospital operating rooms at UNM Hospital and UNM Children’s Hospital.
  • Residents receive a significant didactic program, including completion of the modules from the Special Care Advocates in Dentistry. Completion of the modules qualifies a dentist for participation in the New Mexico Department of Health reimbursement program for special care dentistry.
  • A specialty rotation for clinical training will include management of maladaptive behaviors, covering the use of restraints, positioning devices, sedation, treatment planning, prevention and legal issues.
  • In the future, the program expects to develop a PGY-2 year for more concentrated study in special care dentistry.
  • Cosmetic restoration and replacement of teeth
  • Treat conditions such as TMJ, restoring implants, and rehabilitation of occlusion with prostheses
  • Treat endodontic emergencies
  • Diagnose endodontic problems
  • Master fillings
  • Treat avulsed teeth
  • Perform surgical endodontics
  • Perform oral and maxillofacial surgery and follow-up treatment
  • Perform extractions, remove impacted teeth, and perform pre-prosthetic surgery
  • Treat patients with dental displacement through use of both fixed and removable treatments
  • Specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal diseases and oral inflammation, and in the placement and maintenance of dental implants.
  • Diagnose and treat oral pathology 
  • Help identify missing and unidentified persons in an investigation
  • Perform human and animal bite marks investigation
  • Perform mass fatality incident management, age estimation and civil litigation.

Dental hygiene career information

The UNM Division of Dental Hygiene celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012, and our hygienists work in a variety of settings. Hygienists are licensed professional members of the health care industry who work to promote and maintain oral health in the population. Career options include education, sales, health, management, research and public health.

UNM prepares its students to handle the important responsibilities of a career in dental hygiene with our Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree programs. Students get hands-on experience at our full-service public dental clinic, while also receiving continuous dental education. 

Most people’s experience with dental hygienists revolve around private dental offices where dental hygienists perform many critical services that detect, prevent and treat diseases of the mouth. However, a career in dental hygiene offers multiple opportunities in a variety of settings.

Dental hygienists must master complex skills to provide comprehensive dental hygiene care in multiple settings – with new ones emerging all the time. Click below to learn about dental hygiene specialties.

  • Perform oral health assessments
  • Provide nutritional counseling and self-care programs to prevent disease
  • Examine head, neck and oral regions for disease
  • Take and interpret x-rays and perform other diagnostic tests
  • Provide services that help patients prevent gum diseases and cavities
  • Perform oral cancer and blood pressure screenings
  • Provide oral health instructions
  • Place and remove temporary fillings and periodontal dressings
  • Remove sutures
  • Administer local anesthesia
  • Conduct oral cancer screening biopsies
  • Teach in dental hygiene and dental school programs
  • Present continuing education seminars
  • Write/edit educational materials
  • Act as educational consultants to dental companies

Hold administrative positions in these fields:

    • Education
    • Clinical practice
    • Public health
    • Hospitals
    • Sales
    • Professional organizations
  • Develop and conduct research studies
  • Apply for research grants
  • Write scientific papers for professional publications
  • Present research

Creating new enterprises: 

  • Practice management services
  • Products
  • Educational initiatives
  • Clinical practices
  • Companies that promote health
  • Consulting business
  • Founder of a nonprofit
  • Sales representatives
  • Product researchers
  • Corporate educators or administrators

Public health is a growing field. Dental hygienists can pursue graduate public health education at both the college of population health and dental schools. 

  • Health policy and program management and administration
  • Research methods in dental public health
  • Oral health promotion and disease prevention
  • Oral health services delivery systems