Kathryn Anderson.

Kathryn Anderson (MNLEND, 2016–18), the first dental student to complete ICI’s MNLEND fellowship, is now a practicing dentist in the Minneapolis area, predominantly serving patients with complex care needs.

Anderson joined Apple Tree Dental’s Mounds View location in 2019 after completing a hospital dentistry residency at University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Recently, she also began seeing patients at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare Dental Clinic in St. Paul. 

About 80 percent of Anderson’s practice is devoted to children and adults with physical, cognitive, and developmental disabilities who often require sedation, anesthesia, or alternative treatment approaches.

“It’s rewarding to be involved with this type of practice because there is such a need for this work,” Anderson said. “I enjoy figuring out how best to serve each patient, and finding clinics that are able to accommodate the need for extra time and resources has been critical to my work.”

Completing the MNLEND fellowship during dental school at University of Minnesota helped Anderson hone the interpersonal skills she needed to succeed in helping patients, she said.

“I’ve always been observant and an outside-the-box thinker, but the fellowship gave me the communication skills to help patients feel included in their care, and to work with family members and support staff,” she said. “Sometimes, families come in after years of difficulty in finding a provider who can meet their needs, and there are some preconceived notions. My job is to take a step back and assess the whole person and what their needs are today and not let past experiences dictate where we go.”

In certain situations, for example, sedation can be avoided with distraction techniques or modifications to treatment.

“It’s important to have that flexibility and be able to meet patients where they are,” she said.

During her MNLEND experience, Anderson worked on a community project to create flyers and brochures that helped smooth the transition from pediatric to adult dentistry for patients with neurodevelopmental disabilities. She also has volunteered frequently for Special Smiles, which provides free dental screenings and information to Special Olympics athletes.

“I was really proud that after I presented about my LEND fellowship, two more dental students were selected for MNLEND,” she said. “That trickle-down effect is what we need in dentistry, and LEND is a huge part of that. Creating change is one thing, but sustaining it is another and LEND is a great launchpad.”

Anderson is also now the mother of two daughters, Zoa and Bea. Bea, who recently turned 1, is sporting two baby teeth.