Biotech and Biomaterials Research to Reduce the Caries Epidemic
Slayton, Rebecca L.
Bryers, James D.
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The goal of this workshop is to develop a consensus within the biomaterials/bioengineering community for a research agenda focused on creating technologies that will address the current dental caries pandemic. The workshop will bring together expertise from academia, industry, and the NIH institutes in the areas of oral biofilm microbiology and innovative biomaterials. The rationale for the workshop is that science and technology have not produced sufficient practical tools for public health practitioners and the private delivery system to address the pandemic in dental caries that exists for children and adults from families with low incomes and for numerous ethnic minority and racial groups. Moreover, it is unclear whether the barriers are remediable bioengineering and technical problems or fundamental science questions. Nevertheless, the obligation to address the gap between scientific research and practical application is especially relevant today. The U.S. and state governments bear the majority of the cost of trying to control this pandemic through Medicaid, the Public Health Service, Indian Health Service and other similar programs. These costs continue to escalate as continued applications of existing technology are unlikely to markedly reduce disparities. The mainstays of caries prevention, topical and systemic fluorides and pit and fissure sealants, are technologies developed in the 1950s and 1960s.