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2 General Practice Residents Win MDA Table Clinics

Dr. Sarah Lee

Dr. Rachel Tambunan

Ann Arbor, MI — August 7, 2014 — Two residents in the University of Michigan School of Dentistry’s General Practice Residency program who recently graduated with certification in hospital dentistry, won first and second place for their poster presentations during the Michigan Dental Association’s annual session.

Dr. Sarah Lee: First Place

Dr. Sarah Lee won first place for her work showing the process of treatment planning and executing a complex restorative treatment on a patient with oral cancer.  She detailed three years of prosthetic rehabilitation after the patient underwent life-saving surgery that led to the partial removal of her palate.  Lee discussed treatment sequencing choices and modifications that also occurred.  When treatments ended, the patient’s surgical defect was corrected and the patient could eat, drink, speak and smile. 

“I documented my experiences to educate dental providers, who may not encounter patients with problems such as the one I worked with, about what issues were involved and what could possibly happen to a patient with certain treatments over an extended period of time,” Lee said.  Lee is now working in a public health dental clinic near Winston Salem, North Carolina, continuing to work on advanced restorative cases.  She hopes to pursue specialty training in prosthodontics in the future.

Dr. Rachel Tambunan: Second Place

Dr. Rachel Tambunan won second place for her case study of a patient who had an oral cancer that is mostly found on the feet and very rarely in the mouth.

She said that few published cases of the cancer, carcinoma cuniculatum, exist.  The patient originally exhibited clinical symptoms of severe periodontal disease that did not respond to traditional therapy.  Follow-up examinations, biopsies, CT scans, radiographs and other information were gathered to try to identify what was wrong.  General dentists, periodontists, oral surgeons, oral pathologists and an oral radiologist were involved.

“Even with this team approach and extensive follow up, trying to accurately diagnose what was

causing this problem for the patient was a challenge,” Tambunan said.  It turned out the patient had a low-grade squamous cell carcinoma cuniculatum.  She said that treating the condition involved a partial maxillary resection, extractions, and rehabilitation with a maxillofacial prosthesis.

“I would like this case study to make oral health care providers more aware of unusual conditions that can occur in a patient’s oral cavity,” Tambunan said.  “If and when they encounter disorders such as the one I presented in the case study, I would encourage dental providers to be persistent.  Investigate, don’t give up, talk to others to determine what exactly is wrong, and what action needs to be taken to help a patient.  It will be worth the time and effort.”   

Tambunan recently moved to southern California and plans to begin working in a private practice in the near future.