Fact Book Profile: School of Dentistry

History and Purpose

For more than 100 years, The University of Texas School of Dentistry (UTSD) at Houston has set the standard for oral health excellence by educating outstanding dentists and dental hygienists, discovering new oral health advancements and caring for the people of Texas. Founded in 1905 as the privately owned Texas Dental College, UTSD was the first dental school in Texas and the first professional school in Houston. The school became part of The UT System in 1943 as The University of Texas School of Dentistry and in 1955 was renamed “The University of Texas Dental Branch,” a name it held until June 1, 2011, when it again became the UT School of Dentistry. In 1945, the UT System Board of Regents authorized creation of the Dental Hygiene Program as part of UTSD. The first dental hygiene class was admitted in 1955. The School of Dentistry is part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

Fulfilling the Mission: Education

The School of Dentistry offers 10 accredited programs: DDS, dental hygiene, two primary care general residency programs and specialty programs in endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics. The school also offers an MD degree through the UT Medical School with an oral and maxillofacial surgery certificate. The School of Dentistry has integrated a focus on cultural competency, diversity and inclusion into all four years of the undergraduate dental curriculum, built on the foundation of the American Medical Student Association’s Achieving Diversity in Dentistry and Medicine guidelines. One example of this commitment to diversity is serving as a site for The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Summer Medical and Dental Education Program. This intensive, personalized preparatory program for pre-dental and pre-medical students has the ultimate goal of increasing the number of under-represented and minority health care practitioners in Texas.

Fulfilling the Mission: Research

Researchers at the School of Dentistry work in diverse areas to develop new knowledge applicable to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of oral and systemic diseases. Current areas of investigation are:

  • genetic studies of orofacial clefts and tooth agenesis;
  • salivary biomarker profiles for diagnosing local and systemic disease;
  • regenerating craniofacial structures through tissue engineering and advanced imaging;
  • mechanisms of mucosal immunity and autoimmunity;
  • biomaterical and biomimetics research;
  • molecular imaging of oral and other types of cancer;
  • applying information sciences to oral health and disease; and
  • advanced imaging of craniofacial structures

UTSD is also preparing the next generation of scientists. Dental students participate in research projects, and UTSD research programs support the master’s level research of dental students receiving advanced education in endodontics, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics.

Fulfilling the Mission: Patient Care/Community Service

UTSD’s patient care programs are broad and diverse, as the school operates a faculty practice, as well as advanced education and predoctoral (DDS, DH) clinics. UT*Dentists, the school’s faculty practice, has a main practice site at the school, as well as an oral and maxillofacial surgery clinic in nearby Smith Tower, and a surgical oral pathology service. UT*Dentists includes practitioners in general practice, dental hygiene, endodontics, imaging, oral pathology, oral surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics and prosthodontics.

Students are exposed to a wide variety of clinical procedures during their training at UTSD, both in the onsite clinics and during rotations in the community. The school has affiliations with nine hospitals, 48 HISD schools and more than 30 clinics, community agencies and long-term health care centers. As the only dental school in southeast Texas, UTSD is a primary source of quality oral health care for low-income families, the traditionally underserved, and for patients with special needs and/or medical co-morbidities. The patient-care program exposes students to the latest dental technologies such as digital imaging, digital impressions, electronic patient records and laser dentistry. Students actively participate in the delivery of dentistry to various population groups and also provide care in unique clinical settings, such as the new UTHealth/Ronald McDonald House Care Mobile. Patient-care experiences for students are quite robust, and with an ever-increasing emphasis on community service learning, UTSD students receive a well-rounded education enhanced by extensive clinical experience.


In mid-2012, the School of Dentistry moved to a new, 300,000 square-foot building in the UT Research Park on the south campus of the Texas Medical Center. That same $155 million project also saw completion of the Denton A. Cooley, MD, and Ralph C. Cooley, DDS, University Life Center -- a 14,000 square-foot conference center attached to the new dental school on its north side. On the west, the school is attached to the new UT Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences Building, where UTSD researchers are at work. The new dental school features lecture rooms, a library and learning commons, a simulation clinic, a surgical oral pathology laboratory, a faculty practice clinic, faculty and administrative offices, clinics, and service and mechanical areas, as well as a landscaped courtyard suitable for outdoor functions. The school is a leading provider of dental continuing education In addition to public funds, philanthropic gifts helped to complete and equip the new building and provide funds for endowments, scholarships, research and community outreach.

source: Art Jeske, DMD, PhD, School of Dentistry

Organizational Chart

School of Dentistry Organization

source: Lynnette Lewis, MBA, School of Dentistry