Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry researchers are preparing to conduct the first clinical investigation in the new National Dental Practice-based Research Network, thanks to a six-year, $1.5 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant.
OHSU principal investigator Thomas Hilton, D.M.D., M.S., alumni centennial professor of operative dentistry, and co-investigator Jack Ferracane, Ph.D., OHSU chair and professor of restorative dentistry, will lead a four-year study of cracked teeth in 3,000 patients from approximately 150 to 300 private practices within the National Dental Practice-based Research Network.
Cracked teeth are fractures that involve the whole tooth, from the chewing surface down to the nerve. If a tooth becomes damaged or diseased because of a crack, root canal treatment or even extraction may be necessary to treat the tooth.
“The prevalence of cracked teeth is quite high, with more than 70 percent of adults having at least one cracked posterior tooth,” said Hilton. “Cracked teeth are problematic not just for patients, but for dentists. In confronting cracked teeth, dentists have to decide whether the cracked tooth will get worse, when the tooth needs to be treated, and the best treatment for the patient. It is our hope that this study will help dentists answer these questions.”
The National Dental Practice-based Research Network was initiated in April 2012, a sequel to the three separate NIDCR-funded regional networks. One of those three networks was NW PRECEDENT, a joint effort between OHSU School of Dentistry and University of Washington that began in 2005.
OHSU School of Dentistry has also coordinated its own Practice-based Research in Oral Health (PROH) network since 2003. PROH currently has about 180 practitioners in Oregon and southwest Washington, many of them OHSU dental alumni who participate in clinical studies within their private practices.
“We not only have long-term expertise in practice-based oral health research, but have conducted practice-based research studies previously in cracked teeth,” said Hilton. “As we expect PROH practitioners who are part of the national network will be involved in this study, we anticipate a number of Oregon patients in the new study, as well.”
The National Dental Practice-based Research Network, based out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Dentistry, is funded by the NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (1U19DE22516).