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Jorge Castillo talks about his journey in oral health

Castillo at AAPD 2022 conf.

My name is Jorge Castillo and I am originally from Lima, Peru. I finished dental school at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Perú . My interest in Dentistry arose from my dad, who is a Pediatric Dentist, trained in the 60’s in Pediatric Dentistry at the Eastman Dental Center in Rochester, New York, with a brilliant career in Peru, both professionally and academically. Since I was a dental student, my favorite specialty was Pediatric Dentistry. Restoring dental health for children and enjoying when a child finished their dental appointment with a big smile, especially because I was an anxious patient when I was a child, were determining factors for me to choose pediatric dentistry as the specialty I wanted to follow. Also, during my years of dental school, I had the opportunity to treat various types of patients in various places: the dental clinic at the university, in the poorer areas of Lima, and in the remote communities of Peru. That reaffirmed my interest in doing good things for our children.

Castillo with daughters

After finishing my dental degree, I was fortunate to begin graduate studies in Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Connecticut and do a Masters of Dental Sciences at the same University.  The years at UConn were wonderful and I was lucky to have faculty such as Norman Tinanoff, Jim Crall, Andrew Poole among others.  When I returned to Peru, I began my career as a faculty member in my dental school in Lima and working in private practice with my father and my sister.

A few years later, I was accepted to start an orthodontic program at the University of Washington.  My training in Orthodontics was incredible and here I was also fortunate to have top faculty members such as Vince Kokich, Peter Shapiro, Greg King, Don Joondeph, Greg Huang among others.  A requirement for the program to which I had applied, was to do a Master of Science in Science.  Through Dr. Doug Ramsay, I had the honor of working with Dr. Peter Milgrom who was my mentor during those years. I had the opportunity to work with him in Public Health projects in the Department of Oral Health Sciences and in the Dental Fears Research Clinic. That experience was the one that finally shaped my interest in research and finding solutions to the oral health problems in children.

Castillo working on patient

When I returned to Peru in 2000, my career was consolidated. I returned to private practice with my father, I began a new cycle of teaching in the postgraduate course of Pediatric Dentistry of the UPCH and I began to be invited to give courses and conferences in various cities in Peru, and many countries around the world. I have been fortunate to give courses and conferences in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Mexico, United States, Canada, Spain, Portugal, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, and Iran. Soon I will visit South Africa and India.  In addition, I began to get involved with institutions beginning with the presidency of the Peruvian Society of Pediatric Dentistry and then of the Peruvian Society of Orthodontics.

Castillo with Pope Francis

My relationship with the UW held firm and I became an Affiliate Assistant Professor at the Department of Oral Health Sciences, a position I hold now. That opportunity led to many joint research projects between the University of Washington and the Peruvian University Cayetano Heredia, and the exchange of students and faculty between the two universities. One of the most important milestones was the organization of the Latin American Workshop on Clinical Research Methods in Oral Health, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Timothy DeRouen and Dr. Ana Lucia Seminario. This activity was held twice in Lima and the lectures were given by faculty members from the University of Washington. We received a large group of students from various parts of Peru and Latin America.

In addition to that, I started my international career as a board member of the International Association of Pediatric Dentistry. I was president of the IAPD from 2013 to 2015 and that was a wonderful opportunity, not only to meet people from all over the world but also to get to know the oral health situation of children globally. I am currently in a second term as president of the IAPD and we have very important plans to promote children’s oral health around the world.

Castillo in classroom

Almost two years ago, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. For me it was a hard fight against the disease, but finally and after a few months of treatment I was able to succeed and now I am recovered and with all the strength to continue working hard. I want to thank everyone who was involved in my recovery. When you go through a difficult time in your life, like a did, you end up appreciating life and the people around you, much better.

Workshop group photo

There are so many plans for the future, in my professional and personal life. As a Member of the Board of Directors of the UW Timothy A. DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health, we will continue working with Dr Ana Lucia Seminario and the DeRouen Center with projects designed to improve oral health in our population. Thanks to the DeRouen Center for the opportunity to work together.

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