A new orthodontics school scheduled to open in Sandy Springs next year will increase greatly the number of orthodontists studying and graduating in Georgia, officials of the school say.

The Georgia School of Orthodontics is applying for 18 residency positions in orthodontics, school officials said in a fact sheet about its opening. That compares to nine orthodontic residencies in the state now, graduating about three orthodontists a year, according to Carol Lefebvre, dean of The Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University, the only school that now offers an orthodontics residency program.

Drs. Pramod Sinha and Randy Kluender

Over time, the school’s three-year program will grow to include as many as 54 students, board chairman Randy Kluender said during a recent visit to Sandy Springs.

The Sandy Springs-based for-profit school, affiliated with Meadowlands Hospital in New Jersey, will help fill a national and state need for more trained orthodontists, Kluender said.

“You have more [orthodontists becoming] retirees than graduates coming out of the schools, across the U.S.,” he said. “There is a need.”

But some state officials disagree. “There is no perceived need for another orthodontic residency in Georgia,” Lefebvre said.

Lefebre said there are approximately 220 orthodontists in Georgia and 66 orthodontic residencies graduating 383 orthodontists yearly in the U.S.

“As of now, The Dental College of Georgia, the state’s only dental school, has not had any contact with the Georgia School of Orthodontics and has no plans for collaboration at this time, Lefebre wrote in an email.

The school is scheduled to open next fall, school officials said. They said in a fact sheet that the new school, when in full operation, is expected to have an economic impact on the Atlanta community of $25 million a year and will save metro Atlantans $11.6 million a year in medical costs.

The school’s flagship operation will be located at 5200 Roberts Drive. School officials said they plan in the school’s second year to open community care clinics in locations around metro Atlanta. The school will provide reduced-cost dental care in underserved communities, school officials say, and will help increase the number of orthodontists who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups.

“[The school] is investing in being part of the solution to the state lagging behind the national average for minority orthodontic students and graduates by offering generous scholarships for qualified underrepresented minority residents,” Dr. Pramod Sinha, Board Certified Orthodontist and program director of the school, said in a press release.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.