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 Advanced Simulation 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 their assigned clinical groups. Students assist D3 and D4 students on the clinic floor as part of the year long DAU first year course where they begin to learn and implement the fundamentals of team based care. A three year long course of Professional Practitioner Development, which explores concepts in professionalism, ethics, and practice management, is started in the first year and continues throughout the second and third years. Additionally, the concepts and practices in community oral health and public health are introduced to create the foundation for our comprehensive, four year clinical and didactic program in community and special care.

First-Year Courses

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, and comprehension at an advanced level of selected topics in cell biology.

The course is structured to provide basic information about the evolutionary relationship, structure, physiology and molecular biology of prokaryotic cells and viruses, and basic mechanisms of immunology 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.

Foundation Sciences III 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. FSIII is the first of two courses (the other being FSIV) that collectively comprise the subject of general pathology. Specifically, FSIII will focus on: (1) hemodynamics, (2) the reactions of cells and tissues to abnormal stimuli leading to either adaptation or cell injury and (3) 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, FSIII will focus on the first three of these mechanisms. The concepts presented in this course will prepare the student for understanding the mechanisms associated with systemic and organ-specific disease.

This series of lectures will present relevant and important infectious diseases and their treatments. We will explore the mechanisms used by bacteria and viruses to infect cells. We will introduce odontogenic

infections important to the oral cavity; gastrointestinal infections, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis and bacterial endocarditis will also be presented. This will be followed by a set of lectures on viral diseases including herpes, hepatitis, influenza, rhinovirus, coxsackie, measles, mumps, rubella viruses and treatments using antiviral drugs. Highlighted will be HIV and opportunistic infections of AIDS. Commonly encountered fungal infections and treatments will be presented. Finally, infection control in dentistry will be featured. The second module of this course focuses on the mechanisms of tumorigenesis, including oral cancer, and genetic diseases.

Biological Systems I is a multi-disciplinary, module-based course. Module 1 will provide the student with a basic understanding of the molecular, tissue patterning and functional mechanisms that give rise to the human form. Students will be introduced to anatomy, histology and physiology. Module 2 combines perspectives from neurocytology, 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. Module 3 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 throughout the course.

Module 1 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. Module 2 will present a basic knowledge of bone based on developmental, anatomical, histological, radiological, molecular and functional perspectives. The fundamental principles of cell-cell interactions, extracellular matrix deposition and mineralization related to bone homeostasis, remodeling and healing will be presented. Concepts will be emphasized with radiological presentation of bone diseases using different imaging modalities.

Biological Systems III combines the study of the general principles of anatomy, histology, and physiology of the human vascular, muscular and neuroanatomic 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 the vasculature, muscle and cranial nerves. The third module also includes clinical assessment of cranial nerve function.


Cadaveric Anatomy of the Head and Neck is designed to facilitate integration of the gross anatomy learned systemically in the Biological Systems 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.

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.

Lectures, seminars and community experiences provide students with foundation knowledge in general principles of public health and community health, with specific application to the following dental public health concepts: access to care, cost, quality of care and international health. Students complete community experiences that provide foundation experiences in developing and implementing community oral health promotion activities. This course also focuses on preparing students to enter the clinical practice of dentistry; building relationships with patients, colleagues, and faculty; and developing a moral framework for clinical decision making.

anemia and hematologic dyscrasias, with a particular focus on the principles of laboratory medicine. This course will provide foundational knowledge on the doctor patient relationship, medical history skills and the basics of dental orofacial physical exam and developing the doctor patient relationship. Student will learn 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, and apply this knowledge on each other in small working groups. All throughout, students will receive instruction in the principles of professionalism and ethical decision making with emphasis on case-based discussions. Students will also learn about their local Philadelphia community via a module entitled “The Penn Experience: Racism, Reconciliation and Engagement”.

This course will present the students with an introduction, as well as sound knowledge of the hematology system, laboratory medicine and essential micronutrients; with an extensive study of the most common pathologies related to lack of nutrients as well as the hematology system. There will be an explicit emphasis on relationship of the above to dental practice. We have assembled an experienced group of lecturers, including experts in oral medicine and oral pathology.

Pharmacology is both a basic science and a clinical science. It builds on the foundations of anatomy, biochemistry, physiology and pathology and bridges the gap into clinical dentistry. This course is the first in a series of courses throughout the D1 curriculum that will integrate your basic science training with the clinical practice of therapeutics. The student will gain some understanding of how drugs affect a body system, how the body handles a drug, how the knowledgeable clinician selectively poisons the human organism to obtain a therapeutic effect, and how to stay out of professional trouble.

This course is presented in two parts. The first part presents basic biology concepts applied to the healthy and diseased periodontium. Macroscopic and microscopic changes of the periodontium will be featured as well as how these are altered by disease. In addition, the biological basis for etiology, pathogenesis and epidemiology of periodontal diseases will be introduced. The second part consists of presenting the basic clinical procedures for diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of periodontal diseases through lectures, pre-clinical labs and clinical rotations.

The objective of the 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 1st year, preclinical Operative Dentistry course. Technical skills are developed through learning preparations with a high-speed hand-piece, low speed hand-piece, 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.

The objective of the Dental Development, Anatomy and Occlusion 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 teeth), 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. This course includes lecture and laboratory components where waxing of teeth will be done to reinforce didactic material.

Module 1 will include a series of lectures focused on the basic principles of radiology. These include sessions on radiobiology, radiation medicine and technique. A hands-on component will provide the student with experience in taking radiographs. Module 2 is 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, 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 Operative Dentistry and Periodontics I, 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 course.

This course is a continuation of the fall semester 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.

The objective of the course is to give foundation knowledge of operative instrumentation, operative dentistry terminology, principles of cavity preparations, and the basics of single tooth restorations. The objective of the 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 intra-coronal amalgam and composite procedures then follows. Throughout the entire course, the study of occlusion as it applies to restorative dentistry procedures is continued.

This course expands students’ experiences in health promotion, caries risk assessment and the electronic health record (AxiUm), as well as treatment planning and restorative skills in order to gain additional foundational knowledge, practical experiences, skills and values in comprehensive oral health care. Students will apply knowledge gained in the DENT 5102/DENT550 behavioral health sciences course work to the preclinical laboratory and complete health promotion and caries risk assessment based on cases contained in the electronic health record. Students will also complete treatment plans and restorative procedures as indicated in the patient cases and document the completion of procedures in Axium treatment notes and appropriate procedure codes.

The course is divided into two segments. The first segment teaches the principles of materials science. The second segment is designed to present topics in applied dental materials as students use these materials in the 1st and 2nd year pre-clinical laboratory courses. After successful completion, the student should understand the basic principles of materials science and applied dental materials used in the 1st year Operative Dentistry 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.

The use of enhanced magnification with loupes is a widely accepted standard practice to perform restorative dentistry. The dental operating microscope can provide superior visual performance. For the endodontic specialty, the dental microscope has demonstrated significantly higher success rates compared to loupes. The success of endodontic therapy utilizing the dental microscope suggests that the dental clinician may achieve better outcomes with microscope implementation in restorative dentistry. This introductory course will provide each participant the ability to learn essential restorative microscope utilization techniques in combination with dental loupes for optimal precision dentistry.

The Selectives Program expands the dimensions of the predoctoral curriculum by allowing students to individualize their education to reflect some of their professional and personal interests and study areas that fall outside the core curriculum. The Selectives Program includes didactic, clinical, community dental

health service, and research opportunities, many of which occur in small group seminars or individualized settings that promote close student-faculty interactions.

For the D1 year, the Selective requirement is to complete Reflect & Connect: PDM partners with The Reflect Organization, a 501(c) nonprofit, to offer Reflect & Connect, an evidence-informed peer-to-peer support program. Reflect & Connect provides all first-year DMD students with small-group forums to seek and offer mutual support on a regular basis, helping students forge a strong community right from the start.

In addition to helping create a positive and supportive environment for the next four years, this program is designed to foster skills, connections, and resilience that can contribute to personal and professional development for years beyond graduation.