USC University of Southern California

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

The Restoration Specialist

Photo by John Skalicky

Alena Knezevic

BY JAMIE WETHERBE MA ’04

An expert in the field of dental composite photopolymerization, Clinical Assistant Professor Alena Knezevic brings a worldly perspective to her research and teaching techniques. 

While working in Croatia, Knezevic was among the first to develop a specific method called digital holographic interferometry for measuring how composite resin materials shrink during polymerization. (Composite shrinkage can “pull” on the tooth wall, possibly leading to fractures.)  

“That method is very common in physics, but it was never used for dental purposes,” says Knezevic, whose research credits also include a variety of curing light and lasers in dental restorations to prevent such shrinkage.

In Europe, providers are focused more on composite resin and bonded restoration, she explains. 

“But here, many decisions are made by what health insurance covers or how much a patient can pay,” she says. “When I came [to the United States], everything was about the crown, and there wasn’t too much attention on composite materials.”

During her six years at Ostrow, Knezevic has focused her research on various composite and restoration techniques and teaching students how to apply this clinical knowledge.

“If a composite is done properly, it can be really long-lasting,” she says. “Placement of a composite takes more time and effort, but you’re saving more tooth structure.”

Knezevic wants students to have the training to make every effort to save as much healthy tooth structure as possible — even if it takes more time.

“Give the patient the chance to keep the real tooth,” she says. “I tell my students:  Always imagine you’re treating someone you love — so what you would do for them, do for your patient.” 

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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