Dr. David Felton, right, receives the Dan Gordon Lifetime Achievement Award from Dr. Robert M. Taft, ACP immediate past president.
Dr. David Felton, right, receives the Dan Gordon Lifetime Achievement Award from Dr. Robert M. Taft, ACP immediate past president.
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School of Dentistry dean receives career honor; ascends to board presidency

Published on Monday, November 19, 2018

By: Kate Royals

Dr. David Felton, dean of the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry, received the Dan Gordon Lifetime Achievement Award from the American College of Prosthodontists earlier this month.

The award is named after Dr. Daniel F. Gordon, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II and later went on to become a private practitioner and educator in the field of prosthodontics.

“I’m very humbled and very honored to receive it,” Felton said, calling it “truly a highlight of my career in prosthodontics.”

Felton, who served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Prosthodontics and is the 22nd recipient of the award, was chosen for his research among other achievements.

“Dr. Felton has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of prosthodontic research and understanding,” Dr. Susan Brackett, past president of the College and chair of the nominating committee, said in a press release announcing the award. “Perhaps most renowned among Dr. Felton’s research is his examination of the relationship between tooth loss and other simultaneously existing conditions, which is often quoted to support the important relationship between oral health and overall health.”

Dr. David Felton, left, dean of the School of Dentistry, and Andrew Sinclair, dental student, build a set of dentures during 2017 Dental Mission Week.

Felton’s research shows a correlation between poor oral health and diseases such as diabetes, various heart conditions, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD for short, certain types of cancer and a host of other illnesses.

As a result, Felton can often be heard speaking of his goal to “put the mouth back into the body” – that is, to ensure all health professionals are educated about the link between oral health and overall health.

Days after receiving the Dan Gordon award, Felton was elected president of the American Board of Prosthodontics. The Board is responsible for examining prosthodontists for specialty recognition after they complete their three-year training.

Felton takes on the role as one of only eight prosthodontists in the state and the only School of Dentistry dean with that specialty.

“There’s a huge need for additional specialists here, in particular prosthodontists,” Felton said.

While a future goal of his is to add a graduate program in prosthodontics to the school’s repertoire, his role as board president will involve overseeing and updating the five-part, year-long examination process hopeful prosthodontists must undergo.

“It’s a laborious process because we’re always updating (two sections) of the exam, and then we also administer the exams,” he explained. “It’s a lot of work but a lot of fun.”

Felton received his D.D.S. and M.S. in prosthodontics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He joined the UNC faculty in 1984 as an assistant professor in the Department of Fixed Prosthodontics. He served as director of graduate prosthodontics for four years and as chair of the prosthodontics department for a decade before rejoining the faculty as a full professor.

He became dean of the West Virginia University School of Dentistry in 2011. After three years as dean, he was a professor in the school’s Department of Restorative Dentistry before becoming dean of the UM School of Dentistry in 2016.