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The primary academic and clinical faculty of the Department of Oral Medicine includes:

  • Michael T. Brennan, DDS, MHS, Chair of the Department of Oral Medicine
  • Robert P. Hollowell, Jr., DDS, MS, Director General Practice Residency
  • Joel J. Napeñas, DDS, Director Oral Medicine Residency
  • Anita Patel, DMD
  • Robert H. Schortz, DDS
  • Joel M. Laudenbach, DMD
  • Ralph R. Mello, DDS

View the entire clinical faculty of the Department of Oral Medicine.

In addition, we have numerous practitioners from the community who volunteer their time in the clinical teaching program. This well-rounded and dedicated group of general practitioners and specialists ensures high quality instruction for our residents.

Michael T. Brennan, DDS, MHS, Professor and Department Chair
A native of Iowa, Dr. Brennan attended University of Iowa for both his undergraduate and dental training. After his dental training, he completed a GPR at Loyola University Hospital, Chicago. Following residency training, he received a Certificate in Oral Medicine at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and a Master's of Health Science in Clinical Research from Duke University. He then joined the Department of Oral Medicine in June 2000, and is currently the Chair of the Department of Oral Medicine. He has a number of clinical interests including the management of mucosal and salivary gland diseases, mucositis, facial pain and medically compromised patients. He and his wife, Joanne, have two children and enjoy numerous outdoor sports.

Robert P. Hollowell, Jr., DDS, MS

Robert P. Hollowell, Jr., DDS, MS, Director, General Practice Residency Program
Dr. Hollowell, a native North Carolinian, received his Bachelor’s Degree and a Certificate in Medical Technology from the University of North Carolina. He obtained his Masters of Life Sciences with a focus in Microbiology form NC State before returning to UNC for his DDS and GPR training. His experience includes Director of Hospital Dental Services at WakeMed in Raleigh for more than 20 years and Dental Director of the Murdoch Developmental Center in Butner, NC, treating resident developmentally disabled patients. He joined the faculty at UNC School of Dentistry as Director of the GPR Program and the UNC Hospital Dental Clinic. Dr. Hollowell joined Carolinas Medical Center in December 2013 and is GPR Director and Dental Director of the CMC Dental Clinic. Dr. Hollowell is a Fellow of the American Association of Hospital Dentists and a Diplomate of the American Board of Special Care Dentistry. He was the 2011 President of the North Carolina Dental Society and is currently a Board Member of North Carolina Services for Dentistry. His clinical interests include dental management of medically complex and developmentally disabled patients in the hospital setting. He and his wife, Donna, have two children.

Joel J. Napeñas, DDS, Associate Professor, Director, Oral Medicine Residency Program
A native of Brantford, Ontario, Canada, Dr. Napeñas graduated from the Western University’s Schulich School of Dentistry in London, Ontario, Canada in 2002 after having attained an Honors B.Sc. in Physiology at the University of Toronto in 1998. Postdoctoral training includes a one-year General Practice Residency (GPR) from the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Dayton, OH, and he received a Certificate in Oral Medicine after two years at Carolinas Medical Center. Upon completion of his training, he joined the faculty at the University of Texas at Houston as Director of the GPR program. He returned to the Department of Oral Medicine in January 2007, and served as Director of the GPR program.  He currently is the Director of the Oral Medicine Residency program at CMC.  Dr. Napeñas is a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Medicine, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Diplomate in Special Care Dentistry and Fellow of the American Association of Hospital Dentists. His clinical and research interests in oral medicine include hospital dentistry, dental management of medically compromised patients, oral mucosal diseases, oral oncology, temporomandibular disorders / orofacial pain, and salivary gland disorders.  He and his wife, Winnie, have three children.


Anita Patel, DMD
A native of Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania, E. Africa, Dr. Patel moved to the United States in 1979. She is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine. After completing a one year GPR program (with an optional second year) at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – New Jersey Dental School (UMDNJ-NJDS), she completed a 9 month distance learning, with a one month clinical rotation Fellowship program at the University of Washington in Dental Education for Care of the Disabled (DECOD). In 1997, she joined the Division of Oral Medicine at UMDNJ-NJDS, as a part-time faculty member in the GPR program. In the same year, she also joined Jersey Shore Medical Center as a part time attending in the GPR program and staff dentist. Also, in 1997, she joined a private practice part-time for a year. From 2000 to 2007, she served as GPR program and Division of Hospital Dentistry director at UMDNJ-NJDS. Her clinical interests include hospital dentistry, management of special needs patients, dental management of medically compromised patients, and dental management of the head and neck cancer patients. She and her husband, Harish, have two children.


Robert H. Schortz, DDS
Dr. Robert H. Schortz graduated from the New York University College of Dentistry. His internship and two year prosthodontic residency at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center were followed by a fellowship in maxillofacial prosthetics at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Center for Cancer and Allied Diseases. He is a former clinical assistant professor and director of maxillofacial prosthodontics within the graduate prosthodontic department of the Fairleigh Dickinson University School of Dentistry. Dr. Schortz has lectured extensively on the topics of cosmetic, restorative and implant dentistry. His publications have appeared in the New York State Dental Journal and the prestigious Journal of Prosthodontic Dentistry. Dr. Schortz has dedicated his professional career for forty years to provide his patients with the highest standard of diagnosis and restorative treatment. He and his staff are trained in the newest and latest techniques to ensure the preservation of a healthy mouth and the creation of dental replacements. Each patient is given the time and individual attention they deserve. Prior to joining the staff of CMC in March of 2015, Dr. Schortz maintained a private practice in Midtown Manhattan for 36 years. His clinical interests include Maxillofacial Surgery and Cosmetic Dentistry.


Joel M. Laudenbach, DMD
Dr. Joel Laudenbach received his DMD from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine in 1998. He completed the general practice residency program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in 1999. From 2002 – 2004, Dr. Laudenbach completed residency/fellowship in oral medicine and geriatric dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania. Previous academic/hospital appointments between 1999 and 2007 include: USC School of Dentistry, UCLA School of Dentistry, Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and the University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Laudenbach maintained a private oral medicine practice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 2004-2011. From 2007 until June 2010, Dr. Laudenbach was an assistant professor and clinic chief of hospital and geriatric dentistry in the Department of Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Dentistry. He was also an attending on the medical staff at the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. Dr. Laudenbach returned to Los Angeles in June 2010 and started a private oral medicine practice in Beverly Hills and Tarzana. From 2010-2011, he was a faculty member in the Section of Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain at the UCLA School of Dentistry. In 2011, Dr. Laudenbach joined the medical staff at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in the Division of Dentistry & Oral Surgery, Department of Surgery. In October 2011, Dr. Laudenbach was appointed as an assistant professor at Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine. He joined Atrium Health and CMC as an Assistant Professor in the Oral Medicine and GPR programs in 2018. He has edited numerous journals, books, and websites in Oral Medicine and dentistry.

Ralph R. Mello, DDS
Ralph Mello, DDS, a native of Columbus Ohio, attended Ohio State University for both undergraduate studies and dental school. He had a private practice in Columbus from 1974 to 1979, after which he moved with his wife Karen and their three children to Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Mello again had a private practice with an emphasis in placing and restoring dental implants until retiring November 2012. He was an associate fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry and a founding member and past president of The Dental Implant Associates of North Carolina and a member of the usual dental organizations. He has been teaching in the GPR program at Carolina's Healthcare since 1986 and teaches at least two days a month with special attention to implant surgery and bone grafting techniques as well as most phases of general dentistry. Dr. Mello and his wife both enjoy sailing, kayaking and the arts as she is a painter and he a potter, showing and selling his work locally and regionally.

Visiting Professors

The Department of Oral Medicine brings in faculty from around the world to Carolinas Medical Center on an annual basis. The Visiting Professor Program allows our department the opportunity to bring in educators, clinicians, and researchers with unique expertise. The main goal of this program is to provide teaching, conduct research and to develop other collaborative activities.

Examples of past visitors include:

Sir David Mason, Scotland
Professor Jens Pindborg, Denmark
Professor David Wray, Scotland
Professor Martin Thornhill, England
Dr. John Gibson, Scotland
Dr. David Hay, New Zealand
Dr. Gill Smith, Scotland
Professor Ian Watson, Scotland
Dr. Jason Leitch, Scotland
Dr. Mats Jontell, Sweden
Dr. Douglas Peterson, University of Connecticut