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AAOM Member Highlight: Kentaro Ikeda

Kentaro Ikeda, DDS

How did you decide to enter the profession?

As a child, I always wanted to become a physician to help patients affected by various medical conditions. My father is a pediatric dentist specializing in special needs dentistry. I volunteered to help in a symposium he organized on the topic of Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis (CIPA), a condition that profoundly affects oral health. I realized through this experience how difficult it is for patients with debilitating chronic ailments to find a dentist/oral healthcare provider and address their oral health concerns. There were many physicians at the symposium trying to help patients, but very few dentists were there. At that point, I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a dentist. My ultimate goal was to help medically complex patients find a dental home and gain better access to oral healthcare.

What made you decide to become a member of AAOM?

After I graduated dental school in Japan, I sought further training to expand my knowledge on the more medical aspects of dentistry. When I was a dental student, I remembered hearing about oral lesions in patients living with HIV, and I volunteered at an international AIDS conference in Japan. I reached out to some of the US-based oral medicine specialists who spoke at the conference and enrolled in an oral medicine internship at the University of Pennsylvania. This was my first exposure to the AAOM and its members and I ended up joining the Academy soon after.  For a while, I was not a very active member. After completing my oral medicine residency program at Carolinas Medical Center and working as a junior faculty at the East Carolina University, I started to both appreciate and become more active at the Academy. Developing a professional network and the supportive collegial interactions through the AAOM and its annual meetings were invaluable to my growth and career in oral medicine.

You have become more involved with AAOM, most recently becoming Treasurer of the Academy. Why is this important to you?

My first involvement with AAOM other than just being a member was to be an abstract reviewer. A couple of years after that, I had the honor to become the chair of the Abstracts and Participation Programs Subcommittee. This has been an excellent opportunity for me to build a professional network of oral medicine colleagues not only in the US but also throughout the world. Chairing the Abstracts and Participation Programs Subcommittee has been extremely rewarding. Three years ago, I became a member of the Executive Committee of the AAOM, and more recently (2 years ago), its Treasurer. I feel fortunate to be involved with the Academy during a very exciting time for oral medicine in the US with our recent specialty recognition by the ADA. I strongly believe that this recognition will speed up the growth of oral medicine as a field, as well as the AAOM as its supporting organizational body. I am excited to be a part of the process. It would be my pleasure and honor if my involvement with the AAOM can help the field of oral medicine continue to grow as the newly recognized ADA specialty in the US.