New York University College of Dentistrys Dr. Page W. Caufield, a professor of cariology and comprehensive care has received a five-year, $1.83 million grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), part of NIH, to conduct research to help identify those at risk for severe early childhood caries, a disease that can destroy most of a childs teeth by age six.
The grant enables Caufields team, led to create a genetic profile of Streptoccocus mutans, the fast-acting, potent bacterium that causes the condition, which disproportionately affects children in underserved socioeconomic groups.
Through profiling we will uncover genetic differences between virulent, disease-causing S. mutans strains and those strains found in children who are caries-free, said Dr. Caufield.
In an earlier phase of their research, which was also funded by the NIDCR, Dr. Caufield and his team discovered that mothers transmit S. mutans to their babies, a process believed to occur when the baby passes through the birth canal and comes in contact with transient bacteria originating in the mothers oral cavity. Plaque created by the bacteria covers the babys teeth when they emerge and can erode some teeth in as little as one year. The earlier study identified S. mutans gene sequences common to a group of 50 medically-underserved New York City Hispanic children with severe early childhood caries.
With the help of the new grant, the team will assess whether those gene sequences can reliably predict the disease in a group of 300 children from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. This finding is expected to propel the development of a diagnostic test that dentists could administer chairside to identify those at risk, so that preventive measures, such as sealing a childs teeth shortly after they emerge, can be taken.
|Contact: Christopher James|
New York University