Student Research

Reducing the rate of alveolar osteitis via a novel flap design

Flap design and suturing are critical components of surgical dentistry due to their role in exposing otherwise inaccessible teeth or osseous structures during oral surgery. Under the mentorship of Dr. Jeffrey A. Elo at the Western University of Health Sciences, I investigated how the use of a novel incision and flap design with primary closure can drastically reduce the rate of alveolar osteitis (“dry socket”) following mandibular third molar removal, a phenomenon which reportedly affects 10-45% of patients.

Exploring the world of dental research at the IADR

Stem cell researchDPSCs are multipotent type stem cells located in the pulp of our teeth. Since their discovery in 2005, recent research has shown their great potential for human therapeutic applications. For example, a 2015 study published in Stem Cells Translational Medicine found promising results in utilizing DPSCs in the regeneration and transplantation of corneal cells. However, in order to fully harness their regenerative therapies, improved cultivation techniques must be explored to increase their growth and proliferation following cryopreservation.

My new appreciation for research

laboratory equipmentResearch was foreign to me during my undergraduate studies. Yet in dental school, where it parallels future procedures, research became more interesting to me. Appreciating the importance of a project for the sake of its impact on practice in the “real world” lit a fire within me to be continuously involved in research. This excitement led to my participation in five projects to date. If you are passionate about something, success will follow. But how do you juggle five projects?

Student research: Mitigating the risks of bisphosphonate treatment

laboratory equipmentIn treating many debilitating diseases, we are often faced with a difficult decision: how do we reconcile the potential benefits of treatment with the risks of adverse effects? Bisphosphonates (BPs) are widely used to treat bone cancers such as multiple myeloma and Paget’s disease of bone. Its role in inhibiting osteoclast activity has been shown to dramatically increase bone density and slow the course of aggressive bone malignancies. However, osteoclasts are needed for normal bone turnover and its inhibition by BP may lead to other devastating disorders such as osteonecrosis of the jaw.

How research opens doors in dental school

Servais posterAs a second year dental student at the University of Minnesota, I embraced the chance to participate in the school’s summer research fellowship without any expectations (except the promised stipend). I chose to spend my last free summer working in a research lab instead of traveling like most of my classmates. I thought I would miss out on the chance to have fun during the summer, but I failed to recognize all of the opportunities that would be available to me as a student researcher. Involvement in research has allowed me to travel across the country to present my research, which provided me networking opportunities, public speaking experience and an orientation to research within the profession.

Student Research Spotlight: P. gingivalis and macrophages in hide and seek

researchThe Boesze-Battaglia lab in the Biochemistry Department at University of Pennsylvania – School of Dental Medicine is investigating P. gingivalis’s journey upon phagocytosis by macrophages and how changes in MREG expression may influence this pathway. We specifically determine whether P. gingivalis can alter endosomal trafficking by effecting MREG expression. Evidence suggests that P. gingivalis escapes immediate degradation through colocalization with MREG and LC3II positive autophagosomes in murine macrophages. This could allow P. gingivalis to survive in nutrient-rich intracellular niches and may be a virulence factor.

Say “yes” to research: It can open doors for your career

Andy Alvarez ResearchBefore dental school, I had zero research experience. I majored in Molecular Biology and Microbiology, and later completed a Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences. I never found the right opportunity to experience research in the real working world, a feat that ranked as a top priority on my ever-growing to do list. Luckily, after enrolling in the University of Florida College of Dentistry, I was introduced to an avenue that would get me involved with research more than I ever thought possible: the Summer Research Program. Some quick advice to any incoming D1 or any current dental student interested in research: TAKE THE PLUNGE! There are so many different types of research opportunities out there that are waiting just for you. Over the past year, I’ve realized that saying “yes” to research (and often figuring out the details later) continues to open doors for me that I never knew existed. In this innovative and exciting era of dentistry, dental research continues to serve as the foundation of our profession and getting involved at that ground level is much easier than you think!