New Jersey Dental School Researcher Receives $3.4 Million Grant
Project will examine oral infection in Newark's children, offer them free dental care
NEWARK - A research study being conducted at New Jersey Dental School (NJDS) is examining an oral infection that affects some 70,000 children in underserved areas of the U.S, including Newark. Children who enroll in the study will be offered free dental care at NJDS, for the duration of the study.
The disease, known as localized aggressive periodontitis, or LAP, occurs 15 to 20 times more frequently in African-American children, and 10 times more frequently in Hispanic children, than it does in Caucasians. If left untreated, LAP can lead to loss of first permanent molars and incisors. Daniel H. Fine, DDS, professor and chair of the Department of Oral Biology at NJDS and director of the Center for Oral Infectious Disease there, received a $3.4 million grant to study LAP, from the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
Scientists believe LAP is caused by a microorganism known as, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (Aa), however, definitive evidence-using a longitudinal study model-is lacking. Fine and his colleagues will screen some 3,000 healthy Newark school children, ages 11 to 16, for periodontal (gum) disease, cavities and the presence of Aa. Two groups of children will form the basis of the study: One group with Aa, and a second without it. All students will be asked to return for oral examinations every six months, for at least two years, after their initial exam. At each visit, they will receive free cleanings and toothbrushes, along with oral hygiene instructions, and samples of their saliva and dental plaque will be collected for analysis. The samples from those who develop the disease will be compared to those who do not, and the samples will be analyzed prior to sighting the disease and at the time of diagnosis for comparison, as well. In addition, the saliva will be used to determine host susceptibility factors in students who develop the disease.
"This is the first comprehensive study of its kind to evaluate healthy, underserved children for susceptibility to periodontal disease," says Fine. "It is also a landmark study because it marks the start of a new paradigm in research: This is the first dental study to offer treatment at no cost. Since government funding cannot be used for treating research-study participants, NJDS is covering the cost. LAP is a devastating disease, so we are excited about studying its cause and prevention."
"Dr. Fine's study is just one more example of the valuable role New Jersey Dental School plays in keeping our state healthy," says Cecile Feldman, DMD, MBA, dean of NJDS. "Along with training dental health care providers, who rank among the best in the country, NJDS is committed to conducting research that discovers the causes of oral disease and applies this knowledge to its prevention and cure."
For information on which Newark schools are participating in the study, call Karen Fairlie, RDH, MPA, at 973-972-4431. To arrange an interview with Dr. Fine, please contact Kaylyn Kendall Dines at (973) 972-3000.
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.