The power of two

By Jesica Hurst, BA'14

Drs. Gildo Santos and Maria Jacinta Santos are the true definition of a ‘power couple.’

From supporting each other in significant career decisions, to simply finishing each other’s sentences, it is evident that the two have found a way to blend their personal and professional lives in a seamless and effective way.

It’s a partnership that has made a considerable impact at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, and on the field of dentistry as a whole. After completing doctor of dental surgery degrees in their home country of Brazil, Gildo and Jacinta made the decision to pursue an MSc in Dental Clinics.

What started as a way to simply stand out amongst their peers quickly turned into a genuine and passionate interest in dental research — so much so that Gildo went on to complete a PhD in Prosthodontics, and Jacinta went on to complete a PhD in Operative Dentistry.

“When you start doing research and asking questions and getting results, you want to keep with it,” Gildo said. “The more you know, the more you know what you don’t know, and you want to know more.”

Today, the Santoses remain harmonious in their research efforts, which revolve around restorative dental practices and technology.Their research looks at the effectiveness of bonding and ceramics to help determine the best protocols to use in the clinics at Schulich Dentistry, and around the world. Jacinta focuses on the clinical aspect of the research, whereas Gildo focuses more on working in the lab. But they are working toward the same goal of improving dental techniques.

In the 1980s, ceramic dental restorations, otherwise known as dental fillings, became widely popular throughout the industry. With practices everywhere adopting this new technique, Jacinta made the decision to conduct clinical research about its effectiveness during her PhD.

What ended up being a rare, long-term 12-year evaluation became the clinical foundation for some of their current research, which they actively build upon all the time. They use the School’s state-of-the-art technology like CAD/CAM, computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing, to improve the design and creation of dental restorations.

“There are always new releases in the market, so we want to test them to see what works best and what should be used in our clinic and taught to the next generation of dentists,” Jacinta said. “We have been asking questions about the technologies and techniques used since we became faculty members here — once we get our answers, we can apply it directly to our work.”

Their findings have also been applied on a global scale, as the couple’s case studies have been published in international journals and they have given presentations and lectures outside Canada.

The Santoses agree that, while doing dental research isn’t a common path for most, it has helped them improve and become better dentists.

“By doing this research, you see the things you need to improve on and why,” Jacinta said. “If you don’t ask the questions and get that feedback, you will keep doing what you’re doing without knowing if you’re doing things right or wrong, or the best way possible for the patients.”

Possibly the best part of their research though is that they can work on it together, as they provide each other with unlimited support.

“It was just by coincidence that we enjoyed similar topics, but it is nice that we are working in the same area,” Jacinta said. “There is no competition here — we are just always enjoying ourselves and adding to our collective body of work.”