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Oral diseases and dental health

Support innovative and high impact research that advances understanding of oral diseases and developing approaches to enhance oral health and disease prevention.

Cigarette smoking and use of other tobacco products cause oral and dental diseases, including gum diseases, bone loss and cancers of the mouth and throat. Oral cancer risk for smokers and smokeless tobacco users is substantially higher compared to non-smokers.

This new TRDRP emphasis will support research on early detection, prevention and treatment of oral diseases and new approaches for dental care. Oral diseases in tobacco and non-tobacco users are preventable in many cases, but advances in early-stage basic research are still lacking to inform treatment. Oral health is an essential part of general health, however, the pathways from tobacco use (combusted or vaporized) to oral disease initiation, progression and prognosis are less clear. We also do not fully understand the impact of e-liquid or e-cigarette aerosol on oral health and disease development. Thus, California-based researchers are invited to explore innovative fronts in oral disease research.

Building the health workforce to address oral diseases strengthens the broad research areas included in this priority. Research that fosters partnerships and leverages existing funding support to conduct effective prevention and treatment interventions for oral diseases in California’s diverse communities is highly encouraged. Translational science to speed discovery from the bench to the community clinic to prevent and improve oral disease outcomes is an additional focus.

Sub-Focus areas

  • Molecular and cellular aspects of oral disease
  • Tools and diagnostic methods of early detection of oral diseases
  • Oral epithelial dysplasia as a risk for oral cancer; biology and early detection
  • Oral microbial biofilms and disease progression
  • Basic and applied research in periodontitis and chronic and opportunistic infections of the mouth
  • Risk factors for dental caries and issues related to dietary sugars
  • Oral disease prevention through community-clinic partnerships
  • Innovative research to address disparities in dental health access and oral disease pathogenesis

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Examples of relevant research topics

  • Mechanisms of oral biology of mucosal diseases
  • Manifestation and systemic inflammations of oral mucosa or periodontal disease
  • Salivary dysfunction associated with systemic oral diseases
  • Pathophysiology and biomarkers of oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
  • Periodontitis and tooth loss as a result of use of tobacco products
  • Pathobiology of human periodontitis and related immune system signaling pathways
  • Role of oral microbial entities in oral cancers, inflammatory and degenerative aspects of progression
  • Effects of taxing sugar-sweetened beverages on caries and treatment costs
  • Community-based participatory research methods and translational approaches to increase access to culturally sensitive dental care and preventing oral diseases among underserved groups
  • Potential causal pathways from substance use to oral diseases and conditions.