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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC: Researchers’ New Studies Support Community Dental Practices

Two papers co-authored by Dr. B. Alex White at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health promote the improvement of oral health in communities through providing better training and support for practitioners.

Dr. White, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Gillings School and associate professor of dental ecology at the UNC Adams School of Dentistry, is co-author of the papers “Preparing students for what lies ahead: Teaching dental public health leadership with simulated community partners,” published in the Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, and “Development of a Silver Diamine Fluoride Protocol in Safety Net Dental Settings,” published in the Journal of Dentistry for Children.

“Dentists have always been seen as leaders in their communities,” says Dr. White of the student-oriented paper. “Our idea was to create class groups that realistically simulate community members, reflecting the gender differences, racial differences, personality conflicts and other situations that dentists might face in a community where they work. How will they handle those things?”

The Journal of Dentistry for Children paper, meanwhile, explores how pediatric dentists can support the implementation of silver diamine fluoride (SDF) in community health clinics. By removing existing decay and applying SDF to an area of the mouth, dentists can prevent the spread of cavities around those teeth and decrease bacteria in the mouth overall. This treatment is particularly helpful for young children with a high risk of dental cavities and inadequate access to dental care — until this study, however, little had been done to develop a protocol to support clinics in implementing SDF in their practices.

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