New Grants for Dental Research Awarded to New York University

New research studies are the catalyst for innovation and new technologies. Without the ability to conduct unprohibited research, universities wouldn’t be the powerhouses they are today. In this past month of September, two research teams were awarded millions to engage in research that will hopefully change the future of dentistry. Looking into the effectiveness of cavity prevention and new techniques for teeth restoration these researchers hope to improve the materials dentists use and make sure the techniques we use today are as effective as they can be.

Dr. Yu Zhang, an associate biomaterials professor from the NYU School of Dentistry, will lead two projects into developing better materials for restorative dentistry surgeries. With a grant of 3.7 million dollars from the National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research, Dr. Zhang hopes to change the way we think about teeth. He and his team are looking focusing on a type of ceramic called zirconia that will be as strong or stronger than enamel while maintaining the translucent natural color. The tricky part in this type of research comes in balancing the two vital parts of teeth restoration: you want something as strong as teeth, and you want it to look like teeth. They are hoping that this type of material can last longer than current dental implants. The second study is also from the NYU School of Dentistry and is being led by Dr. Richard Niederman and Dr. Ryan Ruff. The two have been awarded a 13.3 million dollar grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. They are leading a study into the effectiveness of two techniques in cavity prevention on opposite ends of the complexity spectrum. The simpler treatment includes a topical mix of silver and fluoride sealing a cavity. The second, more complex, treatment is a mixture of traditional sealants and fluoride. This study will select 60 low-income elementary schools in the Bronx and randomly give the students in need there one of the two treatments to test their effectiveness.

While these two studies will take up to five years to yield results, it’s important to realize that dentistry now is more than effective. The point of research is to make things that already work marginally better until something completely new can be found. For example, dentists like those at Dr. Bram’s Dental Expressions use a method known as white filling to restore teeth rather than the traditional metal to cut down on toxicity levels that have been associated with the metal fillings. Thinking about the future is always an exciting concept, seeing what’s on the horizon helps us appreciate how far we have come and what we have now.

Like many fields, dentistry is still growing. The American Dental Association call the mouth the window into the health of the body. Keeping one’s teeth healthy pays off more than just the cosmetic look and feel. They are vital to our health, and as our diet changes so should the way we care for them.

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