by Sheila Smith Noonan
In a popular Generation X game, players try to make the connection
between actor Kevin Bacon and other Hollywood stars and movies.
Make that game's setting New Jersey dentistry, and Dr. Peter
DeSciscio ('85) could take the lead role.
"Homegrown in New Jersey and never left," as Dr. DeSciscio
describes himself, he has made his mark in many state dentistry
organizations, beginning with student leadership at New Jersey
Dental School and culminating with his current presidency of
the New Jersey Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). In June, a
few weeks after his AGD term ends, Dr. DeSciscio begins a two-year
term as president of the Alumni Association of New Jersey Dental
Dr. DeSciscio entered dental school with the encouragement of
his parents, Joseph and Gracemary. His mother's uncle was a dentist,
and his father simply wanted him to be his own boss. As a dental
student, his primary goal was to get through school. But when
asked to run for Student Government Association president in
his sophomore year, his path took an unanticipated turn. He served
two years as SGA president, during which time he helped facilitate
student meetings with the then-dean of clinical affairs, Dr.
Robert Saporito. A letter of thanks Dr. DeSciscio received from
former Dean Frank Lapeyrolerie remains fresh in his memory. "Together,
we were able to resolve small problems before they became big
ones," Dr. DeSciscio recalls. In addition to his involvement
with SGA, he was instrumental in creating a student chapter of
the Fauchard Dental Society under the guidance of Dr. Carmine
Following graduation from NJDS, Dr. DeSciscio completed a one-year
General Practice Residency at Jersey City Medical Center and
then worked as an associate for a few alumni of the dental school.
In 1987, he began teaching part time at NJDS, first in the Restorative
Department and then in the Department of Prosthodontics, where
he is on leave of absence from his appointment as a clinical
assistant professor. While actively teaching at NJDS, Dr. DeSciscio
was appointed by Dr. William Cinotti as dental director of the
Plainfield Health Center, now a Community Oriented Dental Education
Also in 1987, Dr. DeSciscio purchased an existing practice in
Perth Amboy, N.J. Four years later he moved his practice to another
office he purchased, again in Perth Amboy, merging the two. Today,
his office, housed in a historic building dating from the 1850s,
blends the antique trimmings of that era with state-of-the-art
Dr. DeSciscio's involvement with AGD began as a practical matter.
He liked the organization's focus on continuing education and
its ability to track the credits he earned. In 1991, with close
to the 500 hours needed for an AGD Fellowship, Dr. DeSciscio
traveled to Orlando, Fla., to take the exam. While there, he
was invited to observe a House of Delegates meeting and to join
other New Jersey AGD members in their suite. "I soon realized
that these people were truly interested in organized dentistry
and in continued education as a lifelong experience," he
Over the years, Dr. DeSciscio, who received his AGD Fellowship
in 1992, took on leadership positions in the New Jersey AGD,
such as chair of the continuing education committee and treasurer.
When he served as the continuing education chairman, the NJ AGD
received the 1995 Continuing Education Award of Excellence from
the national AGD. As Dr. DeSciscio's term as president draws
to a close, he speaks enthusiastically about the academy and
what it offers to dentists and the public. "Our cornerstone
remains quality continuing education courses, which are offered
to all members and students," he says. "A Mastership
track - requiring 600 hours of courses, 400 of which must be
participation - provides an ongoing way for dentists to take
these courses in succession over several years."
At the AGD's national meetings, he has worked the Smile Line
phones. "The public can call an 800 telephone number and
ask questions of dentists. It's a great public service,"
he says. "People ask all kinds of questions, from what type
of toothbrush is best to whether they are candidates for implants.
They want to maintain their natural teeth for as many years as
Dr. DeSciscio's affiliations with AGD, NJDS, and the New Jersey
Dental Association have made him visible within the state dental
circle and also provided opportunities for him to act as an unofficial
liaison between different groups. Both characteristics are strengths
that he will use as president of the Dental Alumni Association.
"From one venue or another, people know who I am, and I'll
call on whatever resources I can to continue building a strong
Alumni Association," Dr. DeSciscio says. "Dr. Battaglia
moved the association in a new, positive direction, and my plan
is to continue to guide it along the same path."
That guidance may include encouraging more alumni to take continuing
education courses, fostering participation by faculty alumni
in alumni/school-sponsored events, building bridges between the
generations of alumni, and an ongoing interest in the school's
current students. "We all need each other to move the Alumni
Association to the next level," says Dr. DeSciscio, who
in addition to his private practice is director of the Dental
General Practice Residency program at JFK Medical Center in Edison,
N.J. "There are many new avenues to explore."
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