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Dental students had something to smile about last month when Penn's School of Dental Medicine opened its new periodontal clinic.

The new clinic for periodontics - the branch of dentistry dealing with gums and the supporting structures for teeth - was long overdue. The old clinic had not been renovated since the 1940s, according to Joe Fiorellini, chairman of the Department of Periodontics.

The new D. Walter Cohen and Morton Amsterdam Periodontal Clinic is in the same location as the old clinic - on the second floor of the Evans building, the Dental School's main building.

The state-of-the-art facility is equipped with operation rooms, a recovery room, X-ray technology and tools to perform microscopic surgery.

The clinic is also equipped with a CAT scan machine. Previously, patients with head and neck injuries had to be taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania or Jefferson Hospital for their CAT scans, Fiorellini said.

Periodontal students will benefit not only from new desks and chairs but also from technology aimed at education. Students can now watch surgeries transmitted live from the operating room to classrooms anywhere in the school.

The Periodontal Clinic puts Penn a step ahead when it comes to periodontal programs. Many dental schools do not have separate periodontal clinics.

Officials said the new clinic will help the Dental School attract students.

"We will be able to recruit better," Fiorellini said. "We got all our first choices [of students] this year, and it's been a few years since that has happened."

The Periodontal Clinic was paid for in part by a $1 million gift from the Annenberg Foundation and is part of an ongoing capital improvement plan at the School of Dental Medicine.

Fundraising is currently underway for the restoration of the Main Clinic and the Endodontic Clinic, Beth Adams, the director of publications at the Dental School, said.

The campaign for Penn's dental program is part of the University's capital campaign that began last fall.

The campaign has a goal of raising a total of $3.5 billion, and it reached the halfway mark earlier this month.

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