Dental research team amid grant recipients

Dental researcher Dr Joanne Choi at the University of Otago. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Dental researcher Dr Joanne Choi at the University of Otago. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Research to develop a novel white crown for drill-free treatment of childhood dental disease is among University of Otago studies backed by $1.74million in feasibility grants.

The funding for seven projects, from the Health Research Council’s latest feasibility grant round, was announced this week.

The overall Otago projects range from anti-inflammatories and physiotherapy for people with knee osteoarthritis, to community-based intensive activation therapy for major depression.

Feasibility grants provide help when strong evidence justifies a full research project, but critical practical information is needed first, to make a potential full study feasible.

Dr Joanne Choi, of the Department of Oral Rehabilitation, and her research team received $249,277 towards helping to develop a novel white crown to treat dental caries, the country’s most common chronic childhood disease.

Traditional treatment involves surgically removing the infected dental tissue and restoration using a filling material.

The Hall Technique is a no pain, no drill restorative approach using metal preformed crowns.

Although effective clinically, this technique used crowns that were aesthetically limited because they were silver-coloured rather than tooth-coloured, and could be hard for dentists to use, she said.

Her research team’s crown system improved aesthetics and crown placement, and cut treatment costs.

The research group is already running a study to digitally scan children’s teeth to collect information on tooth size and shape and then, in collaboration with the Southern District Health Board and a local plastic manufacturer, will produce the crowns to be used in the HRC-funded clinical study.

Dr Choi was "very thankful" for the funding towards a project which aimed to give young people "a positive dental experience’’.

The study would determine the clinical effectiveness, acceptability and cost effectiveness of the new crowns.

Other Otago feasibility grants, just under $250,000: Associate Prof Anitra Carr, Prof Marie Crowe, both Christchurch campus; Dr Cathy Chapple, Dr Helen Harcombe, Dr Ramakrishnan Mani; Dr Stephen Inns, Wellington campus.

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