Name, Program, Mentors
Dr. Haifa Alkhodier, B.D.S., Second year pediatric dentistry resident and M.S. in Dental Science degree candidate at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Mentors: Dr. Chih- Ko Yeh and Dr. Maria-Jose Cervantes Mendez
Please tell me about yourself, why did you pick UT Health San Antonio, and your program.
I was born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on March 14th, 1988. I graduated high school in 2005 with the highest class rank on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from Altarbiya Alnamothajiya Private Schools, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
In June 2011, I earned a B.D.S. degree with a class honor and graduated as the exemplary student of the dental school from King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In 2012, I joined a two-year General Practice Residency Program (GPR) at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre (KFSHRC), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
I then joined the UT Health San Antonio in July 2015 to pursue a certificate in Pediatric Dentistry, and a Masters in Dental Science.
A pediatric dentist is a patient’s introduction to dentistry. Being a pediatric dentist will allow me to ensure that children’s dental experience is pleasant, and help in gaining their trust of dentist as highly qualified health care provider and ease any fear toward dentists if exist. It is up to me, to ensure that their experience is pleasant, showing them that a dentist is someone that can be trusted and cares.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is an institution with highest academic, professional and ethical standards. It provides a higher level of support and assistance for the students. Additionally, I was very impressed by the good feedback I received about this university from the students before and from my supervisors. This made me feel more secure about my future career and my decision to join this institution. I have chosen to study Pediatric Dentistry at UT Health San Antonio, because it is my goal to acquire a graduate qualification of international standard.
Tell me about your research. Why are you passionate about your research topic? How did you first become interested in it?
My research is about saliva and oral health in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). During my dental school, I realized that I am passionate about hospital dentistry and medically compromised patients and that’s why I chose my future career to be at a tertiary care center (King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center). With that being said, I was very determined to chose a topic that touches on this area and may be of a benefit to this group of patients.
What do you want the public to know about your research? Why is your topic important?
It’s estimated that nine percent of children in the U.S. are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Of these, a significant number are taking medication to control their disease. Since the results of clinical studies on the oral health of ADHD patients have been inconclusive, we compared salivary function and oral health in medicated and non-medicated ADHD and healthy subjects.
Our results suggest that medicated and non-medicated ADHD patients (6-17 year olds) have no additional risk for oral diseases or salivary dysfunction compared to healthy controls. However, more research is needed in this group of patients to confirm these results.What was your best memory during graduate school or what did you learn?
During my days as a graduate student, I gained different skills that are required to create properly structured research. I was lucky enough to have a great mentor and supervisor who assisted me to achieve my goals in a step by step basis and I am very satisfied with the end result.
What do you like to do outside of graduate school?
I hang out with friends and watch movies.
I will go back to Saudi Arabia to work at my sponsoring institution (King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center) as a pediatric dentist. I will work hard to apply the knowledge and skills I gained here to promote oral health and prevent dental diseases. I will teach and assist young dentists and dental students to have a better grasp on pediatric dentistry.
Final word, I had my best days at UT Health San Antonio. I will always be thankful to this place for building my future and making my dream come true.