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Graduate finds confidence in
Erin Brophy Conard has every reason to smile.
The 25-year-old Lexington resident is among 52 College of Dental
Medicine (CDM) graduates receiving their degrees May 16. She is one of
only two graduates who’ve chosen orthodontics as their dental
specialty. This fall, Conard will join two other postgraduate students
in the specialized orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics
residency program at MUSC.
Less than seven years ago, Conard was visiting Samuel Marsh, DDS, a
veteran Columbia pediatric dentist and wondered if dentistry would be
in her future. She questioned Marsh during the course of her first
semester at Clemson University and returned to shadow him at his dental
practice during Christmas break.
From that moment, she was hooked.
“I was so excited I was focused on getting to dental school as soon as
possible,” recalls Conard. Within three years, she graduated with dual
degrees in psychiatry and biology in 2004, and began dental school at
She was introduced to orthodontics in her second year taking a class
taught by Ron Bell, DDS, professor and director of the dental school’s
graduate orthodontics program, and Luis Leite, DMD, chairman and
associate professor of pediatric dentistry and orthodontics.
“It was one of the best dental classes available to students and I
thought it was awesome,” said Conard, who also wore braces in her
elementary school years. “Orthodontics is a combination of mechanics,
engineering and physics. I chose orthodontics because the end result
can be so rewarding for the patient, practitioner or anyone on the
receiving end of a laugh or smile.”
One of the profession’s oldest dental specialties, orthodontics focuses
on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial
irregularities. Dentists gain advanced training and skills in this
specialty to manage and guide tooth movement and facial development for
orthodontic patients. MUSC’s orthodontics program was established in
2005 and is among 67 accredited orthodontics programs in the United
States and Canada. The 34-month program offers a clinical and didactic
curriculum in advanced child, adolescent and adult orthodontic care and
teaches the latest concepts in orthodontic treatment
Louis Andria, DDS, is an adjunct associate professor who teaches
Cephalometric Literature Review elective courses (orthodontic
literature reviews) for third-and fourth-year dental students. Conard
joined Andria’s class midway through her third year, coordinating
special arrangements on material and review.
“Erin’s focus, intellectual curiosity and commitment to this class were
a delightful discovery,” said Andria, a 30-year veteran in teaching
dentistry and orthodontics. “She managed to combine two semesters of
work into one, and she asked intelligent, thought-provoking questions
relevant to the material. These are all qualities essential to the
making of a good orthodontist.”
To supplement her work, Conard collaborated with fellow dental graduate
Juan Faja-Ferendez, DMD, on an orthodontics research project and
presented their results analyzing a cephalometric study at the 2008
American Dental Research Meeting in Texas. Their findings complemented
earlier craniofacial research conducted by noted orthodontist Robert M.
In addition to her research and clinical experiences, Conard completed
a three-day orthodontics externship at Virginia Commonwealth
University. On graduation day, she’ll be joined by husband, Mark, a
third-year dental student; her mom, sisters, plus other family and
friends from the Upstate and beyond.
“All my life, I’ve been driven by a curiosity to learn,” Conard said.
“For me, that worked in dentistry and more specifically, in
orthodontics. The residents are very talented and the patients
definitely want to be there. I’m just grateful to have come this far in
my dental education and look forward to continuing with more advanced
training at MUSC.”
Friday, May 16, 2008
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