University of Puerto Rico

School of Dental Medicine
Paseo Dr. Jose Celso Barbosa
San Juan PR 00921

The School of Dental Medicine of the UPR is a proactive institution of higher education for the formation of dentists of the highest quality, who are sensitive to the needs of their patients and are oriented to comprehensive service to the people of Puerto Rico and the global community, with a Doctor of Dental Medicine program, supplemented by various post-doctoral offerings and an innovative Continuing Education program. The institution is a leader in research on inequalities in oral and systemic health, fostering critical thinking, intellectual curiosity, and commitment to the needs of people.

The University of Puerto Rico guarantees equal opportunity for its student’s employees and aspirants to study or work at the institution. The institution also promotes equal opportunity for its academic program, services and working conditions. The University does not exclude from participating, nor exclude from its benefits, any person because of reason of age, race, color, place of birth, origin or social condition, physical or mental impediments, sexual preference, political ideals or religion.


The University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine is the dental school of the University of Puerto Rico. It is located on the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is the only dental school in Puerto Rico. It is accredited by the American Dental Association.

In January 1955 Dr. Harold W. Brown, Ex-Dean of the School of Public Health of Columbia University, submitted his study on the needs of Physicians and Dentists in Puerto Rico. This study was conducted at the request of the then Chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico, Graduate Jaime Benitez. The study revealed that the ratio of dentists per capita then in Puerto Rico was one in every nine thousand inhabitants, approximately (1 / 8949). This rate was considered very inferior compared to the United States, by that time, was one in every thousand seven hundred approximately (1.677). In those years, the majority of dentists practicing in Puerto Rico and American school graduates projected that U.S. schools would not increase admissions of Puerto Rican students in the proportions necessary to improve the situation of the small number of dentists in Puerto Rico. Moreover, it is envisioned that for various reasons would be more difficult for Puerto Rican students could gain access to American schools in the immediate future.

As part of this study and in coordination with the College of Dental Surgeons of Puerto Rico were surveyed dentists in Puerto Rico, as a professional class, demonstrating a massive boost to the creation of a dental school in the country. This study concluded that, based on the low ratio of dentists to existing population and the inability to improve it with the option of educating dentists in accredited schools outside the country, there was a need to establish a dental school built with the School of Medicine, University of Puerto Rico. In April 1955, Dr. Harold Hinman, Dean of the School of Medicine, University of Puerto Rico and Dr. Shailer Peterson, Secretary of the Board of Dental Education American Dental Association, signed a statement which recommended the University to delineate plans for developing an educational program to train dental residents of Puerto Rico to meet the oral health needs of the country, based on the advice of East and Brown.

The lawyer Jaime Benitez, then Rector of the University of Puerto Rico, submitted a request to the Council for Higher Education, with Dr. Peterson's paper as a reference, to create the School of Dentistry. In an extraordinary meeting on 27 January 1956, the Council accepted the report of the Rector and approved the establishment of the School of Dentistry linked to the School of Medicine, University of Puerto Rico, according to Certification # 85 of 6 February 1956. In it was established that the approval was made without the University to have the funds necessary for implementation. Therefore, the rector was empowered to manage themselves and not make any commitments until they have the required funds. To this end, it was not possible to project at this time that the Dental School could begin operations.

On 8 March 1956 the doctor Ubaldino Ramirez de Arellano, a dentist by profession and a congressman, introduced House Joint Resolution 3122 which allocated the funds during the 1956-57 fiscal year to cover the costs for planning and buying equipment to establish the School of Dentistry. At the meeting of 24 May 1956, approved the resolution with a unanimous vote of 43 votes for and 0 against. This project was approved in the Senate of Puerto Rico without amendment on 30 May 1956. The adoption of the law occurred on 21 June 1956 with the signature of Governor Luis Muñoz Marín.

The lawyer appointed Dr. Raymond Baralt Jr. as the first dean of the newly created School of Dentistry, University of Puerto Rico effective July 1, 1956 as soon learned of the signing of the bill by the Governor. A year later, on Monday, 19 August 1957, the school began its academic functions with 29 students. Some of the courses in biomedical sciences, administratively under the School of Medicine, were initially shared by the students of Dentistry and Medicine, gradually creating separate courses after the first year of dental school operations. The faculty and school administration made great efforts to develop academic programs, establish rules and procedures, design and build appropriate facilities (clinics and laboratories), while the teaching work was done. In the academic year 1960-61, the school had 102 students of dentistry.

In March 1961 it received official accreditation visit Dental Education Council of the American Dental Association. Subsequently, the agency told the Rector Jaime Benitez the status of "Full Approval" Under-graduate Program of Dentistry, University of Puerto Rico, in a communication dated 13 March 1961. Thereafter, the School of Dentistry has maintained its accreditation continuously.

The first acts of graduation, for receptacles of the degree of Doctor of Dental Medicine, took place on 2 June 1961 at the Teatro de la Universidad de Puerto Rico. In the years following its establishment were created graduate programs Histopathology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Pediatric Dentistry and Prosthodontics. Later, two programs were introduced in General Practice Residency in the year 1987 and Orthodontics in 1997. Dr. McKelvey served as dean during the period between 1961 and 1972, which welcomed the withdrawal. In that year he appointed Dr. Alberto Tossas, who turned into the first alumnus to hold the position of Dean of the School of Dentistry. In the same year the Medical Sciences Campus moved to its new facility at the Medical Center.

The training programs for staff support of the profession were established under the administration of the school. Among these programs were created Dental Assistants, Dental Hygiene, Dental Technology and Training program Assistants in Extended Functions. Later, as a result of the reorganization of the Medical Sciences Campus in 1976, they were transferred to the College of Health Related Professions, now the School of Health Professions.

Map of University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine, Paseo Dr. Jose Celso Barbosa, San Juan PR 00921

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