The focus of the Centre’s research is developing and evaluating interventions to improve oral health. Settings for research are within Communities and Clinical Practice.
Centre for Dental Public Health & Primary Care
World-class research in population and public health is an area of strategic priority for the School of Medicine and Dentistry, and Dental Public Health plays an important part in leading this. Our research is focused on reducing oral health inequalities and in developing theory-based interventions to promote oral and general health, reducing the burden of these chronic diseases and integrating oral health into wider general health promotion. Research methodologies include expertise in qualitative and quantitative research, epidemiology, health behaviours and behaviour change, healthcare research and systematic reviews. We are a recognised Centre for specialty training in Dental Public Health and training NIHR Clinical Lecturers and Academic Clinical Fellows.
Public health policy impact
The Centre has extensive partnerships with local and national NHS and Public Health organisations providing a rich environment to undertake research and translate this into societal benefit. Prof Cynthia Pine and Dr Vanessa Muirhead are Honorary Academic Consultants in Public Health England (PHE); Dr Huda Yusuf has a substantive Consultant appointment at PHE’s London Centre and is the Clinical Lead for Childhood Obesity. She is a member of London’s Child Obesity Taskforce as well as the Clinical Public Health Lead for Homeless Health. Dr Muirhead’s research across pharmacies in London which was jointly-funded by Healthy London Partnership and NHS England’s London Region; and current applications to NIHR HS&DR and HTA for feasibility studies and full-scale clinical trials in primary care involve partnership with PHE.
Promoting childrens’ oral and general health
Prof Pine leads a significant programme of research in the prevention of dental caries focused on children and families addressing the role of sugar and fluoride delivery at individual, community and population levels with a focus on theory-driven behavioural interventions. National multi-centre clinical trials funded by NIHR (£350K Dental RECUR) and by industry (GSK; £550K) have been undertaken evaluating parental efficacy in controlling dietary sugar and the use of fluoride toothpastes. Successful outcomes from RECUR have been recognised based on the findings of significant reductions in childhood dental caries through a nurse-parent therapeutic conversation for behaviour change with implications for changing the delivery of paediatric dental practice internationally. Dr Muirhead has led pivotal research involving Looked after Children a recognised vulnerable group, often excluded from research because of complicated parental responsibility and consent issues.
In recognition of the significant health impacts of both tooth decay and childhood obesity, Dr Yusuf has forged multiple collaborations with the Public Health Department at Tower Hamlets and the Global Health Unit to develop a health promotion intervention in primary schools. This has reached 3,700 children in 2019-20. We are the first dental school in the UK where dental and DCP students have led on a sugar reduction intervention aligning with England’s Sugar Reduction Strategy. The Centre has received funding from Harrow Council and Health Education England (£30K) to develop a training intervention resulted in significant improvement in the early years workforce in promoting health among families. This has been promoted by the CDO as a key example of academic and public health collaboration in translational research. Dr Yusuf has recently submitted a grant application to develop and evaluate an obesity intervention targeting adolescents in collaboration with Prof Sandra Eldridge, Director of the Pragmatic Clinical Trials Unit.
Improving oral and dental services
There are numerous examples of inter-department collaboration with funded research (BOS/RCS: £157,576) studies focusing on the development of a Core Outcome Set for Orthodontics and evaluating the value of orthodontic treatment and the relative importance of dental interventions at a provider and population level. These have involved collaboration with academics in Orthodontics, Dental Public Health, Paediatric Dentistry and Health Economics internationally. Meta-epidemiological research evaluating methodological, reporting and statistical characteristics of medical and dental research studies has also been undertaken involving research teams in Stanford, New York, Bern and Athens. Prof David Williams has led a collaboration between the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement and the FDI World Dental Federation that has developed a minimum adult oral health standard set of outcome measures for use in routine clinical practice, research, advocacy, and population health. This collaboration involved researchers and clinicians from fifteen universities and health authorities worldwide and also included service users.
Dr Kristina Wanyonyi's research revolves around improving health services and population health. She has ongoing research funded by NHS England titled ‘Extended Dental Services to Provide Oral Health Promotion Text Messages for Older patients’ (OHPTOP trial), which is a study in primary dental care testing an approach to oral health promotion for older patients using phone text messages. She is also working in collaboration with the University of Portsmouth and King’s College London on a project funded by NIHR School for Social Care Research which seeks to improve social care practice in integrating mouth and teeth care in personal care for people living with dementia.
Enquiries for the study of PhD in the Dental Public Health Unit are welcome.
Please contact: Aimee Kennedy, Research Manager. Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8675.