Penn Dental professor to study gum disease, comorbidities

By Melissa Busch, associate editor

November 30, 2021 -- Dr. Adeyinka Dayo, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine (Penn Dental Medicine), has received a fellowship to study a link between medial arterial calcification, diabetes, and periodontal bone loss.

Since moving from Nigeria to the U.S., Dayo has focused on diagnostic dentistry and early detection of disease. The fellowship allows Dayo, a 2022 Doctor of Dental Medicine candidate within Penn's program that enables foreign-trained dentists to earn degrees, to continue her research, exploring possible radiographic links between vascular calcifications and comorbidities, specifically diabetes.

Ultimately, Dayo wants to develop diagnostic strategies using cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) volumes to identify disease biomarkers. Dental images can help identify incidental findings, including calcified carotid artery atheroma, a serious condition that can cause a stroke, and medial artery calcifications, a condition that causes the elastic layer of an arterial wall to stiffen. An incidental finding of medial arterial calcification could serve as a biomarker for diabetes.

Recently, a study published in the European Journal of Radiology showed that dental surgeons and oral radiologists may be able to detect atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup, in the carotid artery as an incidental finding on CBCT scans. Identifying the calcifications offers dentists the opportunity to aid in the early diagnosis and prevention of strokes.

Sponsored by the National Dental Association Foundation and Colgate-Palmolive, the Trailblazers in Oral Health Research Scholars of African Heritage (TORCH) fellowship, gives young researchers of African heritage opportunities to increase representation and participation in oral health research. TORCH fellows receive stipends, mentorships, professional development, and industry exposure.

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