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Faculty Share Expertise in Oral Health in America Report

March 29, 2022

Philadelphia — This past December, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released its Oral Health in America: Advances and Challenges report, exploring the nation’s oral health over the last 20 years and presenting a road map on how to improve oral health in America going forward. This wide-ranging report is a follow-up to the seminal 2000 Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General that was considered a public health milestone, definitive in its assertion that oral health was inextricably linked to overall health.

Drawing primarily on information from public research and evidence-based practices, this recent report is the culmination of two years of research and writing by NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) and a multi-disciplinary team of more than 400 experts – Penn Dental Medicine faculty members among them.

Contributing authors from the current Penn Dental Medicine faculty include Dr. Thomas Sollecito, Professor and Chair of Oral Medicine; Dr. Joe Fiorellini, Professor of Periodontics; Dr. George Hajishengallis, Professor, Department of Basic & Translational Sciences; Dr. Flavia Teles, Associate Professor, Department of Basic & Translational Sciences; Dr. Anh Le, Professor and Chair of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery; and Dr. Michael Glick, Professor of Clinical Restorative Dentistry.

“This is an important report,” says Dr. Sollecito. “It provides a comprehensive assessment of oral health in the U.S. today, unequivocally shows that oral health is vital to overall health, and outlines action steps to be addressed as we move forward.” Dr. Sollecito, who was assigned to the group that explored “Emerging Technologies and Promising Science to Transform Oral Health,” contributed to the section on the integration of medical and dental records.

Among some of the other faculty members’ contributions, Dr. Fiorellini served as the lead writer for the “Oral Health Integration, Workforce, and Practice” section of the report, Dr. Hajishengallis discussed the role of inflammation in oral disease, and Dr. Teles addressed the role of the microbiome.

“Despite major advances in microbiome research, several gaps in knowledge remain. For instance, there is a need to better understand the rise and transmission of bacterial antibiotic resistance and the development of new antimicrobial approaches,” notes Dr. Teles. “Fortunately, the increasing development of large datasets, comprising microbial and clinical information along with individual metadata and robust bioinformatics approaches, have a great potential to “put big data to work” and really make personalized dentistry realize its potential.”

Download the report at www.nidcr.nih.gov/oralhealthinamerica.

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