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Michigan, others receive NIDCR grants to study caries risk, prevention

October 12, 2017

Caries studies: Researchers who are part of two new National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research grants at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry include, from left, Dr. Carlos González-Cabezas, Dr. James Boynton, Dr. Margherita Fontana, principal investigator, Susan Flanagan and Emily Yanca.
Bethesda, Md. — The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is a recipient of two National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research grants totaling $18.3 million to expand research into predicting caries risk in young children and assessing the efficacy of silver diamine fluoride.

Both studies will be led by Dr. Margherita Fontana, a professor of cariology, restorative sciences and endodontics at Michigan.

The study, "Predicting Caries Risk in Underserved Children, from Toddlers to the School-Age Years, in Primary Healthcare Settings," expands the age range from 4 years to 8 years for assessing which children are at risk of developing caries, Michigan said in a Sept. 22 news release.

The school said the study "will develop a practical and easily-scored caries risk tool for use in primary medical healthcare settings to identify children at high risk of caries, then follow their progress over time" with the hope that it will lead to "cost-effective preventive and referral strategies."

The $8.7 million grant spans five years and also includes researchers from the University of Iowa, Indiana University, Duke University, Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio, George Mason University and the University of North Carolina.

In the second grant, NIDCR awarded $9.6 million over four years to Michigan and researchers from the University of Iowa, New York University, Indiana University, University of Otago in New Zealand, University of Hong Kong and University of Baltimore to study the effectiveness of silver diamine fluoride in stopping the progression of cavities in young children.

The study will follow more than 1,000 children, ages 2-5 years, who will receive silver diamine fluoride twice at six-month intervals. The researchers will monitor the children's cavity progression and also test whether [silver diamine fluoride] can "profoundly improve oral health by arresting lesions, reducing pain, improving quality of life, and significantly reducing costs, all contributing to substantial reductions in disparities in caries," Dr. Fontana said.