Penn Dental Medicine

Academic Programs & Admissions

First-Year Curriculum

The first year of the curriculum introduces students to the concepts of human biology as they pertain to medicine in general and to dental medicine in particular. The curriculum reflects an emphasis on integration of scientific information by grouping courses into integrative course streams rather than discipline specific courses. This includes studies relating to the principles of oral disease prevention, patient management, and physical examination. A major segment of the curriculum focuses on the structure and function of oral tissues and contiguous structures. During this time, students will also begin an integrated preclinical course in restorative dentistry combining several disciplines (e.g., dental anatomy and occlusion, operative dentistry and dental materials), including extensive use of the School’s Virtual Reality Laboratory. Clinical experiences begin upon entry into the DMD program and increase with each succeeding year. In the first year, students begin clinical rotations in oral medicine, periodontics, health promotion, radiology, and hospital dentistry. Additionally, students will assist upperclassmen on the clinic floor as part of the DRAUT first year course.

Key: (L= Lecture, B = Laboratory, S = Seminar, C = Clinic, R = Rotation)

First-Year Courses Course Type

500 Foundation Sciences I

Foundation Sciences I is aimed at providing students with a thorough understanding of the basic principles of molecular biology and general biochemistry; the biochemical concepts underlying healthy metabolism, nutrition and selected disease states; comprehension at an advanced level of selected topics in cell biology including radiation biology; comprehension at an advanced level of selected topics in Immunology; and basic principles of Pharmacology.


502 Foundation Sciences II

Foundation Sciences II is the first course in the curriculum that focuses on the underlying cellular and molecular basis of disease and is a critical component of a larger subject commonly known as Pathology. In its simplest terms, Pathology is the study of the structural, biochemical and functional abnormalities that develop within cells, tissues and organs resulting in disease. The disease process forms the core of pathology and includes: etiology, pathogenesis, lesions and clinical manifestations. Traditionally, Pathology is divided into general and systemic pathology. FSII is the first of two courses (the other being FSIII) that collectively comprise the topic of general pathology. Specifically, FSII will focus on: (1) the reactions of cells and tissues to abnormal stimuli leading to either adaptation or cell injury and (2) pathogenic mechanisms responsible for disease development. Pathogenesis refers to the sequence of events that ultimately lead to the expression of disease, i.e., lesions and clinical manifestations. The underlying cause of disease may result from one (or more) of the following pathogenic mechanisms: inflammation, immunity, vascular disturbances, abnormalities of growth, infection and/or genetic alterations. In addition to cell injury, FSII will focus on the first three of these mechanisms. The concepts presented in this course will prepare the student for understanding specific diseases as the are presented as part of systemic and organ-specific disease.


504 Foundation Sciences III

This series of lectures will present relevant and important infectious diseases and their treatments. We will explore the mechanisms used by bacteria to infect cells and present two major classes of bacteria, the Streptococcus and Staphylococcus. We will also introduce odontogenic infections important to the oral cavity. Gastrointestinal infections, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis and bacterial endocarditis will also be presented. There will be an introduction to antibiotics. This will be followed by a set of lectures on viruses with oral manifestations: these will include herpes, hepatitis, influenza, rhino, coxsackie, measles, mumps, rubella viruses and treatments using antiviral drugs. Highlighted will be HIV and opportunistic infections of AIDS. Next, fungal infections and treatments will be presented. Finally, infection control in dentistry will be featured.


510 Biological Systems I

Biological Systems I is multi-disciplinary, module-based course. Module 1 will provide the student with a basic understanding of the molecular and tissue patterning mechanisms that give rise to the developing human form. Aberrations, including craniofacial dysmorphisms, will be presented to illustrate what happens when normal developmental mechanisms are disrupted. Module 2 will provide the student with a thorough understanding of the development, biology, morphology and function of mucosal epithelium, connective tissue, skin and salivary glands. Clinical correlations will be used where appropriate.


512 Biological Systems II

Module 1 will present a basic knowledge of bone based on developmental, anatomical, histological, radiological, molecular and functional perspectives. Teach the fundamental principles of cell-cell interactions, extracellular matrix deposition and mineralization related to bone homeostasis, remodeling and healing. Concepts will be emphasized with radiological presentation of bone diseases using different imaging modalities. Module 2 will present a detailed survey of osteology of the skull, cervical spine and laryngeal skeleton in a series of interactive lectures and small-group conferences. Appreciation of the three dimensional anatomy of the cranium, temporomandibular joint and the orofacial skeletal complex will be reinforced with integrative presentations of radiographic anatomy to introduce some clinical correlations.


514 Biological Systems III

Biological Systems III combines the study of the general principles of anatomy, histology, and physiology of the human vascular and muscular systems, with an emphasis on the orofacial complex. The goals of the course are to provide students with a sound knowledge of normal biology and organization of those organ systems and to examine and discuss examples of pathophysiological conditions. Students should subsequently be able to recognize the anatomical structures, identify tissue types, and explain the principal physiological functions of vasculature and muscle.


516 Biological Systems IV

The first module of Integrative Neurosciences combines perspectives from neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and pharmacology to help students develop a pre-clinical understanding of neuronal conduction and coordination as applied to the function and pharmacology of the somatic and autonomic nervous systems. The second module emphasizes both motor and sensory systems relevant to the practice of dental medicine. Foci include the gustatory and olfactory systems, mechanisms and etiologies of orofacial pain, central coordination of motor pathways involved in bolus formation and swallowing, and the clinical assessment of cranial nerve function.


520 Oral & Maxillofacial Complex I

The course is structured to provide basic information about the evolutionary relationship, structure, physiology and molecular biology of prokaryotic cells and viruses in relation to oral health. Emphasis will also be placed on how oral microorganisms participate in plaque/biofilm formation, caries and periodontal disease. Primary objectives related to the clinical setting include an understanding of the basis of the selective inhibition of antibiotics and the development of resistance, understanding the basis of serological tests and immunization and interpretation of radiographic evidence for caries and periodontal disease.


522 Oral & Maxillofacial Complex II

Cadaveric Anatomy of the Head and Neck is designed to facilitate integration of the gross anatomy learned systemically in the Biological Science track through the meticulous regional dissection of a human cadaver. In addition to enabling visualization of both anatomical structures and their clinically significant relationships in a three dimensional context, the course provides initiation into the tactile manipulation of the human body.


530 Advanced Simulation Laboratory Course

The objective of the Freshman Advanced Simulation Laboratory course is to introduce and develop specific psychomotor and cognitive skills through the use of virtual reality based training that will enhance and augment future skills acquired in the preclinical General Restorative Dentistry, Operative Dentistry course. Technical skills are developed through learning preparations with a high speed handpiece, low speed handpiece, and dental hand instruments in a virtual reality, advanced simulation environment. Suitable operative skills, knowledge, and ergonomics will be emphasized for the successful transition into the preclinical operative course. Dental terminology and principles of tooth preparation will be applied to the theory of all the basic preparations. Suitable operative skills, knowledge, and ergonomics will be emphasized for the successful transition into the preclinical operative course.


532 Dental Development and Anatomy Course

The objective of the Freshman Dental Development and Anatomy course is to provide foundational knowledge regarding Tooth development, Primary dentition, Permanent dentition, Tooth numbering systems, Tooth classification (Incisors, Canines, Premolars, Molars), Set Traits (traits between Primary and Permanent dentition), Class traits (traits for each kind of tooth), Arch traits (traits of maxillary vs. mandibular), and Type traits (differences between teeth within the Class). Dental morphology relative to Operative dentistry procedures will be discussed. This knowledge will be called upon throughout all four years of the dental curriculum. There are 13 lectures, ranging in length from 1½ hours to 2 hours each. There are 7 laboratory sessions where 4 waxing of teeth procedures will be done to reinforce didactic material presented.


534 Dental Occlusion Course

The objective of the Freshman Dental Occlusion course is to provide foundational knowledge regarding human occlusion and the temporomandibular joint. Dental occlusion relative to Operative dentistry procedures will be discussed. This knowledge will be called upon throughout all four years of the dental curriculum. There are 7 lectures, ranging in length from 1½ hours to 2 hours each. There are 10 laboratory sessions where waxing of teeth using only concepts related to dental occlusion, selective grinding to achieve an ideal occlusal relationship, alginate impressions and diagnostic model making, facebow transfer, and diagnostic model mounting procedures will be completed to reinforce didactic materials presented.


536 Operative Dentistry Lecture Course

The objective of Freshman Operative Dentistry Lecture course is to give foundation knowledge of operative instrumentation, operative dentistry terminology, principles of cavity preparations, and the basics of single tooth restorations.


538 Operative Dentistry Laboratory Course

The objective of Freshman Operative Dentistry Laboratory course is to develop an understanding of the normal, healthy stomatognathic system and to introduce fundamental didactic and psychomotor skills, relative to operative dentistry procedures, in order to restore the dentition to its healthy state. This is accomplished through the review of individual tooth anatomy and the study of occlusion to define normal and healthy. The study of cariology and treatment of the pathologic process continues afterward. Restoration of form and function with basic intracoronal amalgam and composite procedures then follows. More complex intracoronal procedures such as gold inlay, and porcelain onlay preparations and restorations are then taught. Throughout the entire course, the study of occlusion as it applies to restorative dentistry procedures is continued.


539 Dental Materials

The course is divided into two segments. The first segment teaches the principles of materials science. The 2nd segment is designed to present topics in applied dental materials as students use these materials in General Restorative Dentistry. After successful completion, the student should understand the basic principles of materials science and applied dental materials used in the freshman GRD course. They should understand how the principles aid in material selection, risk/benefit assessment, restoration design, patient information and evaluation of new materials and manufacturer’s claims


540 Periodontics I

This course is designed to introduce the student to the normal and pathological features of the periodontium, as well as the basic procedures of the treatment of periodontal diseases. It consists of a lecture part presented to the entire class, and a clinic part during which the students are working in pairs or small groups under close supervision


550 Behavioral Sciences I – Health Promotions

Lectures, seminars, clinical sessions and community field experiences are provided so that students gain the necessary knowledge and skills in oral health promotion and disease prevention activities with individuals, communities and populations. Course topics include discussion of the philosophy, modalities, rationale and evaluation of health promotion and disease preventive activities related to caries, periodontal diseases and oral cancer. Focus is placed on assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of strategies designed to target the individual patient, the community and a population perspective.


560 Clinical Practice I – Introduction to the Patient

This course will provide foundational knowledge on the doctor patient relationship, medical history skills and the basics of dental orofacial physical exam. The first part of the course will include lectures outlining the doctor patient relationship, components and application of the medical history. The second part of the course will include lectures outlining the components and application of the physical exam, including vital signs, cranial nerve exam, head and neck examination, and examination of the heart and lungs. The third and final part of the course consists of 2 practical workshops in small groups where you will be required to practice taking medical histories and performing various components of the physical examination. The second rotation will occur in the Oral Diagnosis clinic where students will take a medical history and perform a physical examination on a PDM admissions patient.


562 Clinical Practice II - Dental Radiology and Auxiliary Utilization

DAU 541 is a course designed to teach the first year student four-handed dental assisting technique which will be used to assist third and fourth year students in clinical practice. In addition to exploring assisting technique, skills such as patient communication, team building, and record keeping are taught. Students gain clinical experience and assist in the same procedures that they are encountering in GRD, thus forming a clinical bridge to pre-clinical learning. Lectures, a written exercise, a lab, clinical rotations and completion of a clinical exam make up the didactic portions of the Pass/Fail course.


564 Clinical Practice III - Introduction to Clinical Dentistry

This course will provide the first year dental student with a variety of different clinical experiences. This includes engaging in primary patient care by rotating through the newly established Recall Clinic, and performing basic oral hygiene procedures on PDM patients. In addition, the student will spend day-long rotations in various pre-doctoral and specialty PDM clinics. Finally, the student will gain a unique perspective in practice management by assisting PDM staff with dispensing clinical supplies.

The Robert Schattner Center
University of Pennsylvania
School of Dental Medicine
240 South 40th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6030