Dental Clinical Research Center Opens at Oregon's Only Dental School

05/24/99    Portland, Ore.

Dental bridge study is one of many clinical trials at new center.

Susan Brace is one of four million opeople across the United States who need dental bridges. She lost one of her front teeth as a child because of an abnormailty in the permanent tooth. To correct the deficiency in her smile, dentists created a metal-ceramic bridge that connected her own two teeth together to form a new tooth in the existing space. But the bridge didn't fit correctly causeing irritation and gum disease. In addition, the color of the bridge didn't match her real teeth. After 15 years of living with the effects of the bridge, Brace can now smile again with confidence thatnks to a new all-ceramic bridge she received as part of a dental clinical research project. The study is one of several being conducted at the Oregon Health Sciences University's School of Dentistry's new Dental Clinical Research Center in the Mark O. Hatfield Research Center.

The new 2,600 square foot facility will provide dental researchers state-of-the-art equipment and a more controlled environment in its two surgical suites and four dental operatories. The public can visit the new center during an open house on Tuesday, May 18 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. The goal of the center is to conduct research projects with the nation's leading dental investigators in an effort to continually improve quality dental care and technological advances.

"With the opening of the Dental Clinical Research Center we can offer corporate and federally funded researchers the newest equipment and the finest enviornment available for their work," said John Sorensen, D.M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.P., director of the Dental Clinical Research Center.

Sorensen is also the principal investigator on the all-ceramic crown and bridge systems research project in which Susan Brace is particpiating. This study looks at how strong the ceramic material is, what its limits are when used on teeth in the back of the mouth, at what thicknesss the materials are most effective, how much tooth structre needs to be removed to match the appropriate thickness of the bridge units and what are the effects of the all-ceramic materials on the opposing teeth.

"These exciting new materials are fueling an aesthetic revolution in dentistry," says Sorensen. "We are two years into the study and our results show that these new products are allowing dentists to make more htan just beautiful smiles, but also restore form and function with more gum-friendly materials."

Eight research projects are currently underway at the center. Some of those include studying the effects of improved oral hygiene on reducing blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, an osteporosis drug on rebuilding bone that supports the teeth, and the effect on gum health of an antibiotic drug inserted into the pockets around the tooth. In addition, researchers at the center will soon start testing a laser diagnostic system which may detect dental decay with higher accuracy then current methods.

The center would not have been possible without a generous financial donation by Joan and Ken Austin of Adec Corporation in Newberg, Oregon. In addition, an endowment from the Oregon Dental Service Insurance and other Oregon dentists started the Oregon Dental Association Centennial Professorship of Restorative Dentistry and made it possible for the appointment of Sorensen as director of the Dental Clinical Research Center.

This year Oregon's only dental school is celebrating 100 years of clinical excellence in dentistry and dental education. OHSU's School of Dentistry is proud of its national reputaion for producing outstanding clinical dentists who pass their board exams with some of the highest scores in the country.