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Institute of Dentistry - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Dr Vanessa Muirhead, BSc (hons), BDS, MSc (Distinction), PhD, FHEA, FDS(DPH) RCS


Clinical Reader/Honorary Consultant in Dental Public Health

Telephone: +44 (0) 207 882 8637
Room Number: Office 15, Floor 4, Institute of Dentistry


Vanessa Muirhead is a Clinical Reader/Honorary Consultant in Dental Public Health. She gained a first class BSc honours degree in Experimental Pathology and a Bachelor degree in Dental Surgery (BDS) at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, QMUL.

After working as a community dentist for Portsmouth and Wandsworth Primary Care Trusts, she returned to QMUL to complete a MSc degree with Distinction in Dental Public Health (DPH). Vanessa then moved to Canada to pursue a PhD at the University of Toronto and complete fellowship-supported postdoctoral research at McGill University, Montreal, Canada.She returned to QMUL to complete her specialty training as a NIHR Clinical Lecturer/ Specialty Registrar in Dental Public Health, where she successfully completed the Intercollegiate Specialty Fellowship Examination (ISFE) in Dental Public Health in 2016.

Vanessa has obtained her Fellowship in Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and is on the DPH General Dental Council (GDC) specialist list. She is currently the Programme Director for the new online MSc / PGDip / PGCert in Dental Public Health, Policy and Leadership course at QMUL. She also serves as the Academic Lead for dental NIHR Academic Clinical Fellows and Clinical Lecturers in the Institute of Dentistry.

Centre: Dental Public Health and Primary Care


Programme Director for the MSc / PG Dip / PG Cert in Dental Public Health, Policy and Leadership courses ( 

Module Lead for Dental Public Health and Policy module.

Module Lead for the Leadership and Planning in Health and Public Services module. 

Module Lead for the Health Economics module.

Undergraduate Dental Public Health tutor in the Population Health and Evidence Based Dentistry module. 


Research Interests:

Vanessa's research focus is on exploring, developing, and evaluating oral health interventions using a population and systems approach to address oral health inequalities and to support socially excluded populations. Her recent research projects have involved collaborations with a wide range of health and social care organisations including the Healthy London Partnership, NHS England, and Local Authorities (

Vanessa's research working with service users led to the co-production of oral health resources for Looked after Children (children in care) and foster carers ( . She is currently developing an intervention for community pharmacy staff to support parents and children who visit pharmacies with dental pain. 

Vanessa's research is multi-disciplinary, collaborating with social and behavioural scientists, anthropologists, health economists, primary care dentists, and pharmacists. She has expertise in mixed methods research (qualitative and quantitative research methodologies), survey research and statistical analysis, and patient and public engagement. 


Key Publications

  1. Muirhead V.E, Milner A, Freeman R, Doughty J, Macdonald M E. What is intersectionality and why is it important in oral health research? Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 2020; 48(6): 464-470 (
  2. Muirhead, V. E., D'Antoni, D, Auyeung. Community pharmacy staff oral health training, training needs and professional self-efficacy related to managing children’s dental problems, Int Journal Pharm Pract 2020; 28(5): 449-457. (
  3.  Freeman R, Doughty J, MacDonald M E, Muirhead V. Inclusion oral health: a theoretical framework for policy, research and practice. Community Dent Oral 2020; Epidemiol 48(1) 1-6
  4. Muirhead V E,. Quayyum Z, Markey D, Weston-Price S, Kimber A, Rouse W, Pine C. M. Children's toothache is becoming everybody's business: where do parents go when their children have oral pain in London, England? A cross-sectional analysis. BMJ Open 2018 8(2): e020771
  5. Muirhead V, Subramanian S K, Wright D, Wong F S L. How do foster carers manage the oral health of children in foster care? A qualitative study. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 2017; 45(6): 529-537


All publications

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