5 Questions With ... Dr. Leonardo Marchini

Leonardo Marchini
Leonardo Marchini, D.D.S., M.S.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Preventative and Community Dentistry
The University of Iowa College of Dentistry & Dental Clinics

1. What drew you to dental education?

Since high school, I was thinking about becoming a teacher. I was always the first one asking to be a presenter when a team needed to present to the class. One of my choices for college was majoring in history, so I could become a history teacher. However, as my father is a dentist, he brought me to the dental school and introduced me to some of the faculty, which were his friends, and told me that I would be able to teach dentistry if I become a dentist, but I would also be able to work as a clinician. This simple, down-to-earth explanation convinced me, and I applied to dental school.

During my time in dental school, for every course I attended, I was always thinking, “I would love to teach this.” By the end, I ended up teaching prosthodontics, and as a prosthodontist I was seeing many older adults and became interested in geriatric dentistry, which is the topic I am teaching now.

2. What are you most proud of professionally?

An academic career is full of challenges, but it is also has plenty of rewards. Many things make me feel proud of my professional path, but the single thing I am most proud of is the success of the wonderful people I had the opportunity to mentor.

I have mentored several predoctoral and postdoctoral students through my career, and many of them are very successful both in academia and private practice. Knowing that I was part of their success and that their careers will also improve the lives of their students and patients in a positive cycle is the best reward a teacher can think of.

3. What’s a major development in your field that’s flying under the radar?

There are a lot of interesting developments in geriatric dentistry. Some are related to dental materials and techniques, such as using silver diamine fluoride (SDF) for controlling caries disease among vulnerable older adults and using a risk assessment model for managing rapid oral health deterioration among this population.


One major development that might be going unnoticed in the dental arena is the current shift from nursing home care (institutionalization) to a model of care based in community living (adult day centers). The current generation of older adults wants to age in place, and they do not want to be institutionalized. So new models, such as Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), have been gaining traction. Dentistry should strive to be part of the interprofessional teams that care for older adults in these new models of care. 

4. What’s the ultimate comfort meal for you?

I am originally from Brazil, so my comfort meal is composed of rice, beans, steak, lettuce and tomato. Very typical Brazilian comfort food.

5. What skill or talent would you most like to develop?

There are so many skills I need to develop, that it is difficult to single out one skill. I guess I would like to further develop my pedagogic skills, to improve my ability to guide learning and assess performance.