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NYU dental research on cavity prevention, children’s quality of life receives $13.3M

September 22, 2017 New York — New York University College of Dentistry announced Sept. 20 it received a $13.3 million funding award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to study caries prevention and its impact on students' quality of life and school performance.
    
Led Dr. Richard Niederman and Ryan Richard Ruff, Ph.D., a research team will conduct a five-year study comparing the effectiveness of two school-based, caries-prevention techniques — a "simple" treatment of topical silver and fluoride and a "complex" treatment of traditional sealants and fluoride.
    
"The overall goal of our proposed research is to improve oral health equity by determining the most effective, patient-centered and efficient school-based cavity prevention methods," said Dr. Neiderman, professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion at NYU College of Dentistry.
    
In the study, the researches will compare caries prevention programs in 60 high-need elementary schools in the Bronx that serve low-income, Hispanic/Latino families. Schools will be selected at random to receive either the "simple" or "complex" treatments.
    
All children will receive the same preventive dental care twice each year. The researchers will then assess untreated cavities, quality of life and student achievement to compare the outcomes of both treatments.
    
More than half of U.S. elementary school-age children have a dental caries, and more than 20 percent have untreated cavities, according to the news release. The prevalence of caries in the Bronx is almost twice the national average. In addition, children with dental caries and associated toothaches face multiple disadvantages, including reduced quality of life, school absences, difficulty paying attention in school and lower standardized test scores.

"This is an unparalleled opportunity to explore the long-term impact of oral health on quality of life and student achievement," said Dr. Ruff in a news release. "This research has the potential to improve multiple outcomes relevant to children and their families."