Research on dental caries explores factors responsible for destruction of tooth enamel, developmental genetic factors that contribute to caries susceptibility or resistance and methods for preventing the disease. Changes in the demographic structure of our society and the increasing number of individuals who retain their teeth into old age has increased the important of studying lesions that occur on root surfaces exposed by receding gingival tissue. Current research investigates bacteriological and immunological factors that are important in the maturation of the dental plaque biofilm and in caries etiology. Research continues on the use of fluoride to prevent lesion development or to remineralize existing lesions as well as the use of fluoride restorative materials. Recent projects are investigating transmission of specific genotypes of Streptococcus mutans from mother to child in an American Indian population.
- Primary researcher: Dr. Jeffrey Banas
- Bacterial pathogenesis, microbiology of dental caries, plaque biofilm development.
- Primary researcher: Dr. David Drake
- Mechanisms of pathogenicity and physiology of oral microorganisms in caries, genotypes of Streptococcus mutans associated with severe early childhood caries (S-Ecc) in American Indian children, transmission of specific SM genotypes from mother to child, and root canal infections. Effects of antimicrobials on oral bacteria.
- Primary researcher: Dr. Ronald Ettinger
- Dental care for the elderly and handicapped, including longitudinal studies of overdentures, aging at the cellular level, efficacy of fluoride prevention for overdenture abutments, epidemiology of oral diseases in older adults, and health service needs of older adults.