School of Life Dentistry at Niigata
Greetings from the Dean
Tsuneo Sekimoto D.D.S., Ph.D.
Dean of the Nippon Dental University School of Life Dentistry at Niigata
Nippon Dental University was established by Ichigoro Nakahara in 1907 as Japan's first dental institution. The University has carved out a history of over 100 years under its founding principle of "self-reliance and self-responsibility." As a general university with a specialization in dental care, it is the only university to have two schools of dental medicine. One of these schools is the School of Life Dentistry at Niigata. "Life dentistry" is the study not only of the teeth and oral cavity but of the whole living being. It was this fact that led to the school being named the School of Life Dentistry. For that reason, the Niigata School always keeps in mind the relationship of the part to the whole, building a six-year integrated curriculum with the aim of developing dental practitioners who see the oral cavity and the whole body as one organism, the result of a rational course of instruction from general education to medical fundamentals and clinical work.
In particular, now that we are facing the advent of a super-aging society, the School is placing emphasis on a community-centered care system that requires the linking of a number of job descriptions (many of them outside of the dental professions), such as home dental and oral caregivers, medical doctors, nurses, and those engaged in in-home care. As one part of this effort, for the first time among Japanese dental schools, the Niigata School has undertaken in-home dental care. Based on this experience, the School has incorporated in-home dental care into student education. Further, in addition to its dental hospital, the School also has a medical hospital, where hands-on clinical care is carried out as part of students' education in internal medicine, surgery, and otolaryngology. In this way, students can not only acquire medical knowledge but also learn from practical experience about the healthcare connection between medicine and dentistry.
Furthermore, the incidence of children's cavities in Niigata prefecture has been the lowest in the nation for ten years running. In 2008 a regulation was passed in the prefecture to encourage dental health, the first in the nation. The School of Life Dentistry at Niigata is thus located in one of the most advanced prefectures concerning dental health, and it is contributing in a wide variety of ways to society and answering its needs as a producer of dental practitioners as well as a medical institution and research center.