Half a million cash jab for dental research

The University of Plymouth is to provide £500,000 funding for the Peninsula Dental School to pursue three important areas of research in partnership with the university, it was announced yesterday (Thursday).

The first area of research will cover statistical epidemiology in oral health, including the review of published evidence and the creation of new approaches to understanding the complexity of dental research data.

The second will look at the use of virtual reality and psychological approaches to tackle dental anxiety. The research will examine the extent to which virtual reality could be used to ease anxiety both before and during treatment.

The third area of research will consider nanotechnology, toxicology and dentistry. Nanopowders and nanotechnology are used widely in the latest generation of dental-filling materials.

They are also found in the surfaces of implants, dental tissue engineering and toothpastes and their use has been driven by the demand for materials that are aesthetically pleasing and the desire to move away from a reliance on mercury containing materials such as dental amalgam.

However, there is a possibility that engineered nanomaterials may act as endocrine disruptors, could be genotoxic (affecting the integrity of cells which in some cases are mutagenic or carcinogenic) and may prove to be toxic to the wider environment.

This area of research will consider the issues in conjunction with the European Centre for the Environment and Human Health, which is part of the Peninsula Medical School.

David Moles, professor of oral health services research and director of postgraduate education and research at the Peninsula Dental School, said: ‘We have chosen three areas of research that require additional and focused study, and which will ultimately be of benefit to dental practitioners and their patients.

‘We are very grateful to the University of Plymouth for this funding and we look forward to working with researchers there to pursue these areas of study.’

Professor Wendy Purcell, vice-chancellor and chief executive of the University of Plymouth, added: ‘Our ongoing support stands testament to the excellence of the quality of the School’s research and the very real benefits that it affords the health and wealth of the city and the region, including helping to enable the dental treatment of up to 300 NHS patients a day at our training sites in Plymouth. The university is proud to be founding partner of the school and through this investment, continue to play an important part in funding vital research.’

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