Achievement Award: Dr. James Palermo

Dr. James Palermo taught at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry for more than 40 years. In recognition of his efforts, he will receive the Ohio Dental Association Achievement Award on Friday, Sept. 14 at the Callahan Celebration of Excellence, held in conjunction with the 152nd ODA Annual Session.

“For nearly 44 years, Dr. Palermo taught thousands of dentists, pre-docs and residents alike, the importance of a healthy periodontum,” said Dr. Denise Hering, a past president of the Columbus Dental Society and current ODA speaker of the House of Delegates. “He has been an inspiration and a treasure to our profession.”

Palermo said he’s very pleased and surprised to be receiving the award.

Palermo earned his DDS from the OSU College of Dentistry in 1967. After he graduated, he took an internship with the U.S. Air Force, where he began to learn about perio. In 1968, he was deployed to Panama, and while he was there he did root canals, surgery and all the perio that was needed, and he said that’s when he decided he wanted to be a periodontist.

“That set my mind right then and there – this really helps people out to be able to keep their teeth,” he said.

After returning from Panama, he attended a two-year perio residency program at OSU and received his MS in 1973.

After graduating, he opened a practice in Reynoldsburg and started teaching at OSU.

Palermo said teaching dental students is important to him because he wants to be able to help save people’s teeth.

“When I was in school, I was able to benefit from his teaching in the pre-doctoral clinics,” Hering said. “I remember observing a surgery he was performing with four of us crowded around, learning exactly what was entailed in the procedure.”

Palermo said his favorite part about being a periodontist are the results you get from good periodontal treatment.

“You can actually see an increase in the bone support and the tissue support around teeth,” he said. “If a patient has loose teeth, you definitely see those teeth tightening up, and they say ‘I can chew better, I feel better, overall this is really key. Dr. Palermo, I just feel so much better, and I don’t have to go to my physician as much.’ I honestly believe the overall health of a patient has a lot to with infection and inflammation. ”

Palermo said he finds inspiration from patients who thank him for saving their teeth.

“It’s amazing; I love it,” he said. “When I examine them and they look at me, and they say ‘Dr. Palermo, thank you for putting yourself in my seat, and you talked to me so I can understand what’s going on.’”

Palermo has served on the Board of Directors with the Columbus Dental Society and as president of the Ohio Academy of Periodontists and Columbus Academy of Periodontists.

Palermo said he thinks organized dentistry is important because of the high number of rules and regulations related to dentistry. He also appreciates the number of great CE opportunities for dentists through organized dentistry.

Palermo has received several honors and awards, including the Educator Award in Recognition of Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring in Periodontics from AAP and the Outstanding Service Award from the Columbus Academy of Periodontology. He also has received multiple recognitions from the OSU College of Dentistry and was recognized for “Furthering Patient Education in the Interest of Dental Health” by the Collegiate Dental Health Advisory Board.

Outside of dentistry, Palermo enjoys gardening and has a great reputation for growing tomatoes. He also enjoys sports.

His daughter, Lisa, is a periodontist and is in practice with him, and he also has a son, Michael, and a wife, Patricia.

The Achievement Award is given to someone with a personal and professional commitment to the dental profession and the public’s oral health, and who is an ambassador for the dental profession with solid respect for the profession.