My name is Abdalla Asi, I am a current third year dental student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. I am interested in am pursuing a career in Oral Surgery after graduation. I graduated in 2013 from Damascus University School of Dentistry in Syria. I moved to the United States to start my residency in Advanced Education in General Dentistry at Case Western Reserve University from 2014 to 2016 to learn more advanced procedures that will allow me to help my patients. After graduating from my residency program, I started working as a general dentist in the Cleveland area.

For internationally trained dentist, pursuing Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is not an easy task. Two major obstacles I faced were being a US citizen or permanent resident and having graduated from a US dental school. During my time in Cleveland I was able to obtain my Permanent Resident Green Card. I also saved money to pay for my own education. I was then very fortunate to be accepted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine as part of the Advanced Standing Education for internationally trained dentists. This is a two-and-a-half-year training that guarantees a US dental degree. With all of this, my application will now be considered during the next cycle for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery residency.

During my residency at Case Western Reserve University, I worked alongside the Orthodontic Team to help a 16-year-old patient with ectodermal dysplasia syndrome. This syndrome is a group of genetic disorders where the individual may have congenitally missing teeth. This can result in difficulty eating, and/or speaking, negatively affecting patient’s quality of life.

There are many types of ectodermal dysplasia. All of them affect at least two of the ectodermal structures such as (skin, hair, nails, sweat glands and teeth). Signs of ectodermal dysplasia may include:

  • Abnormal fingernails and toenails.
  • Inability to sweat because of abnormal or absent sweat glands, which affects the body’s ability to regulate temperature.
  • Thin hair on the scalp and body.
  • Missing, malformed or abnormal teeth.

We were able to straighten our patient’s current teeth and create enough space so I could make him a temporary partial denture.  Once he is at least 18 years old, he will be allowed to get dental implants. This case was one of the reasons that I decided to go back to school, so I can pursue Oral Surgery. The specialty would allow me to offer more specialized dental services that can improve patient’s quality of life.

-Abdalla Asi