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Research activities

The mouth is the window to general health, making dentistry play a strategic role in the improvement of health for children at SickKids.  

The Department of Dentistry at SickKids is the largest paediatric dental department in Canada, and involves two divisions - Paediatric Dentistry (including oral and maxillofacial surgery and prosthodontics) and Orthodontics.

Research Mandate

Previous investigations in dental trauma and pulp therapy have provided important contributions to the dental profession’s treatment of healthy children in community settings worldwide. However, oral health is intrinsically linked to systemic health of the medically complex children treated at SickKids. Thus, integrated research between Dentistry and healthcare partners at SickKids is strategic for improvement of healthcare in children within the hospital, provincially, nationally and internationally. A strategic research plan was developed with the goal of improving outcomes for children with medical comorbidities through clinically focused investigations.

Current strategic areas of research include:

  1. Oncology
  2. Cleft/Craniofacial Anomalies
  3. Sleep Apnea
  4. Evaluative Dental Sciences

A Look at Some Current Studies

Low Light Laser Therapy (LLLT) in treatment of Oral Mucositis (OM) in children receiving treatment for cancer

OM develops in 20-40 per cent of patients receiving conventional chemotherapy and 60-85 per cent of patient undergoing Hematopoetic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT).

Our aim is to determine if LLLT application prior to OM development can prevent or reduce oral mucositis. The hope is that the results of this study can provide the evidence and thereby the basis for using LLLT prophylactically to reduce the burden of treatment for patients undergoing HSCT.

The impact of palatal expanders on speech in the cleft lip and palate population.

It is common for children with cleft lip/palate to have speech problems. Before getting a surgery to add bone to the gums (an alveolar bone graft), an appliance that widens the upper jaw called a palatal expander is commonly needed. However, placing the expander usually changes speech quite a lot. We are doing this study to:

  1. Figure out how the speech of patients with cleft lip and palate is changed by the placement of the expander before their alveolar bone grafting surgery.
  2. See how the speech adapts after the expander placement.
  3. If speech is disrupted by an expander more if there is a hole in the palate or a narrow palate.

A comparison of anterior pediatric zirconia crowns and bonded composite resin strip crowns: one-year feasibility study

Bonded composite resin strip crowns (strip crowns) are routinely used at SickKids to restore carious primary (baby) incisors. In 2008, zirconia crowns were introduced to pediatric dentistry as an alternative restorative option due to excellent esthetics, resistance to fracture, reduced plaque accumulation and color stability. A feasibility study is needed to establish the clinical outcomes of the zirconia crowns and bonded composite resin strip crowns in primary maxillary incisors. The aimsof this study are:

  1. To statistically compare the one-year survival of resin composite strip crowns and zirconia crowns in primary maxillary incisors.
  2. To statistically compare the frequency of pulp therapy required for placement of zirconia crowns and resin composite strip crowns in primary maxillary incisors.
  3. To measure the frequency at which teeth randomized to zirconia crowns are deemed restorable with strip crowns only, and not zirconia crowns.

Dental morphology in Obese and non-obese children with and without obstructive sleep apnea

The purpose of this study is to compare prevalence of dentofacial abnormalities in children with and without obstructive sleep apnea in cohorts of children with and without obesity and Down syndrome.

Investigating Structural and Molecular Alterations in Enamel Hypomineralization Pathologies

Approximately 8 per cent of children who are seen at SickKids Dentistry have a condition called Molar Incisor Hypomineralization (MIH) that weakens the outer layer (enamel) of their adult teeth.
We wish to examine the adult molar teeth that are extracted to treat MIH. We will look at one half of the tooth under the microscope to see the building blocks of the tooth enamel and how it is different than the normal enamel around it. The other half of the tooth will be treated with a special protein solution that we think might strengthen areas affected by MIH.

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