Oral health study scoops funding

A grant of more than £88,000 has been awarded to a study that will investigate the effect of social deprivation on oral health in outer north east London.

The project, which beat off competition from 11 other proposals to secure funding from the Shirley Glasstone Hughes Trust Fund, will investigate whether people living in deprived communities define oral health differently from their peers living in less deprived areas.

It will also assess whether individuals’ concepts of oral health affect the way that they care for themselves and what barriers exist to individuals accessing care and adopting healthy behaviours.

The study will consider the populations of Redbridge, Waltham Forest and Barking and Dagenham, and use patient concepts of oral health to ask whether deprivation can explain why some individuals engage in behaviours such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and irregular visits to a dentist, which increase their risk of oral diseases.

It will assess the strengths and shortcomings of the way oral health services are provided, providing evidence on how to adapt existing structures and develop new services and interventions that overcome barriers to care. It will also provide evidence to underpin models of commissioning care.

Professor Liz Kay, chair of the Trustees of the Fund, said: ‘Despite an overall improvement in the oral health of the UK over the past four decades, a persistent and unacceptable chasm between those with the best and worst oral health persists. Understanding why we have this gap is crucial to addressing this situation. The trustees hope that this piece of work can make a significant contribution to expanding that understanding and helping to develop practical tools to address it.’

The project will be led by Dr Russ Ladwa, Dean of the Faculty of General Dental Practice at the Royal College of Surgeons of England in London. It will be hosted by the Institute of Dentistry at Bart’s and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Thanking the trustees, Dr Ladwa said: ‘The award of this grant represents a great boost to research in primary care. The FGDP (UK) will work in collaboration with the host institution, Bart’s and The London SMD, Queen Mary University of London, which has a tradition of research in health inequalities.

‘Both the Institutions are delighted to be given the opportunity to carry out research that will provide evidence to develop cost effective models of delivering prevention and treatment in primary dental care.’

For further information about the Shirley Glasstone Hughes Trust Fund visit www.dentistryresearch.org.

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