USC University of Southern California

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

The Drill-Less Dreamer

Photo by John Skalicky

Jin-Ho Phark


Jin-Ho Phark dreams of a day when dentists use their drills a lot less often. 

The assistant professor of clinical dentistry aims to change the way future generations of dental professionals think of caries from a condition to be repaired after a cavity has formed to something to be managed during its earliest stages.

“As dentists, we can see caries on the X-rays early,” he says. “We need to change our focus to prevent these lesions from progressing.”

Potential early interventions include techniques like resin infiltration and silver diamine fluoride application as well as patient hygiene and diet changes using the Caries Management by Risk Assessment protocol. 

Phark’s philosophy on treating caries is very much in line with the profession’s push toward minimally invasive dentistry.

“Each little bit of tooth that you drill away is not going to grow back, and you’re going to weaken the tooth significantly,” he says. “So what we’re trying to do above all else is preserve the tooth structure.” 

Phark is already teaching these early intervention techniques in lectures to DDS students and residents in the advanced operative and adhesive dentistry program and hopes to find ways to have it incorporated into the school’s curriculum.

This willingness to continually evaluate and innovate the profession is an example of what he hopes to impart in his students. 

“I usually encourage my students to ask “Why?” — why things are being done that way and how can they be done better to help us improve the treatment, the flow and the quality of our work,” he says. 

READ NEXT: The ASPID-DDS Curriculum Uniter

This story originally appeared in the TroDent, the official publication for the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. Read more stories like this in our Spring 2018 issue.



Posted May 2018