Residents, faculty present and connect at American Association of Orthodontics Annual Session

Collage of images of Rachel Phillips presenting a poster, Alyssa Domico posing with her ribbon, and the award resident case display

Orthodontics residents and faculty had a strong showing at the 2023 American Association of Orthodontists Annual Session, representing the University of Minnesota with research, networking and more. 

The American Association of Orthodontists hosts “the definitive event for orthodontists and their ortho team,” according to the session website. This year’s event took place in Chicago, IL in April. The event allowed attendees to select from seven paths based on goals, including clinical techniques, scientific advances, inspiration and wellbeing, business success and more. 

Several School of Dentistry community members showcased their expertise throughout the event. Matt Larson, DDS, MS, adjunct instructor, presented on “The Near and Far Future of 3D Printing in Orthodontics.” Several alumni featured in all-orthodontist band Relapse, who provided event entertainment.

Rachel Phillips, PhD candidate and future orthodontics resident, presented a research poster on “Site-Specific Characterization of Mandibular and FemurDerived Osteoclasts.” Mentored by Kim Mansky, PhD, professor of orthodontics and director of the MinnCResT training program, and Amy Tasca, DDS, PhD, assistant professor and Robert J. Isaacson Chair of Orthodontics, Phillips focuses her research on differentiating the osteoclasts found in the mandible from those found in the long bone. 

“Osteoclast are essential cells for the process of orthodontic tooth movement, but most of what we know about these cells comes from the long bone,” she explained. “Our aim is to conduct a robust characterization of the osteoclasts of the mandible to further inform clinical decisions based on what we know about how these cells function physiologically, in bone healing conditions and in orthodontic tooth movement.” 

Phillips found the experience of presenting enlightening. “As a dental scientist, it is always rewarding to see your research come together, and it’s even more rewarding to get to share that research with other like-minded professionals in the field,” she said. “Through my experience presenting, I was able to discuss my research with faculty and residents from programs across the country and the world.” 

Current orthodontics residents Alyssa Domico, DMD, Amelia Volkert, DDS, and Molly Erdman, DDS, supervised by Thorsten Gruenheid, DDS, Dr med dent, PhD, MHA, received second place in the Resident Case Display competition. Hosted by the College of Diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontics, the case display invites residents to submit a binder with case records, a work file detailing the case and 3D printed models. Approximately 60 to 70 cases are submitted each year and are on display for attendees of the conference.

The residents were honored and proud to have their work valued with the second-place win. “Our program is always striving for excellence and provides our residents with a high-quality education, and I think our second place finish illustrates this,” said Domico. “We had a great team on this case, which was seen by a handful of residents, orthodontic team members, the oral surgery team and a restorative dentist. Everyone played an integral role in providing a fantastic result for this patient, and I am thankful to have gained this experience as a graduating resident.” 

Erdman agreed, sharing that “it was an honor to be recognized in the competition. I feel it represents the hard work and dedication our faculty provide in teaching us sound clinical skills and biomechanics to achieve ideal outcomes.” 

In addition to presenting and sharing accomplishments, learners enjoyed the overall experience of attending the session and getting to know fellow specialists.

Domico found her second time attending the event just as enlightening and enjoyable as the first. “I love the variety of lectures provided, as well as the opportunity to meet and speak with very well-known orthodontists across the nation.” 

Erdman, also attending for the second time, said it was “another top-notch educational and social experience.” She continued, “what will stick with me the most is spending time with friends while learning about the various ways people are treating orthodontic patients around the world.” 

Phillips appreciated the “energy and enthusiasm for orthodontics” she saw at the conference—and it made her more excited than ever to become a resident and focus on orthodontics.

“Attending the AAO Annual Session demonstrated to me that the field is constantly progressing and changing,” she said. “Seeing the current residents and faculty, as well as alumni, learning about the latest innovations and techniques makes me excited to attend in the future as a resident and be a part of a program where continuing orthodontic education is highly valued.”