UCSF receives $24.4 million to fight cavities

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Dentistry has received the largest grant in its history: $24.4 million, from the National Institutes of Health, to address socioeconomic and cultural disparities in oral health.

The seven-year grant, which is funded through the NIH National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, will enable the UCSF center to address disparities in children's oral health (nicknamed CAN DO) to launch new programs in preventing early childhood tooth decay, according to the school.

The programs will include new research to compare methods to prevent dental caries in children, as well as efforts to integrate and implement current scientific understanding across various primary care and social service settings.

"Dental caries is the most common chronic disease among children, and it is becoming more prevalent nationwide, disproportionately among children in low-income families and certain minority groups," said John Featherstone, Ph.D., dean of the UCSF School of Dentistry.

The 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, illustrated these disparities in children by race/ethnicity, with 42% of Mexican-American and 32% of black children ages 2 to 5 having decayed or filled teeth, compared with 24% of white children.

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