Eastman institute gets $3.5M to study early childhood caries

The University of Rochester Medical Center's Eastman Institute for Oral Health (EIOH) has been awarded a $3.5 million grant to explore how certain familial factors may lead to early childhood caries (ECC).

Funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research, the grant will specifically explore how family functioning, stress, and parenting behaviors influence ECC.

"From an oral biology perspective, we fully understand what factors lead to ECC," stated Dorota Kopycka-Kedzierawski, DDS, MPH, associate professor of dentistry and the principal investigator of the project, in a press release. "But despite the many attempts worldwide to prevent ECC ... we're not making substantial progress in reducing early childhood caries. In fact, there is a distressing tendency for recurrence following treatment."

During the course of two years, the researchers will follow more than 200 young children who are at a high risk for developing ECC. Children will be examined for cavities every six months, and checkups will include an assessment of nutritional, social, and behavioral influences on the risk of developing ECC.

"Early Childhood Caries is a complex disease with many factors playing a role," stated Eli Eliav, DMD, PhD, director of EIOH. "This study is critical in improving the knowledge base of how some of these factors determine risk for young patients."

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