UB Dental Students Tackle Clinical, Basic Research Questions

By Lois Baker

Release Date: March 4, 2009 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Would the sweet scent of vanilla and the soothing sound of classical music make dental patients feel more relaxed?

Creed Cardon, a second-year dental student, made that question the subject of his research in the UB School of Dental Medicine's Student Research Program.

His results, and those of 47 other research projects undertaken by student and post-doctoral researchers, will be presented to fellow students and their faculty advisors at the annual Dental Student Research Day being held this Thursday from 1-2:30 p.m., in the Millennium Hotel, 2040 Walden Ave., Cheektowaga. (Members of the media attending this event should ask for UB's Anne Meyer, on site, for commentary about the student research).

The projects range from very basic science -- genes involved in dental infections and the sheer bond strengths of self-adhesive cements -- to more clinical concerns, such as whether having a parent in the dental examination room lessens a child's anxiety.

Approximately 40 faculty members with research interests in all the basic and dental clinical sciences participate in the student research program. The school has found that participation in research helps students develop skills crucial to patient diagnosis and evaluation of treatment. The research experience also allows students to interact and work with faculty under informal circumstances, and has convinced many students to pursue careers in academic dentistry.

Cardon said he chose to study the ability of pleasant sensations, such as soothing music and aromas, to alleviate stress because it is directly relevant everyday dentistry.

"There is little research done in this area with statistical backing," said Cardon. "I really wanted to participate in research, and found this project to be very suitable."

Thayne Gardner, also a second year student, is investigating the child anxiety question. In his study, patients 8-to-11-years-old completed a questionnaire called the Smiley Face Program that assessed dental anxiety, and decided whether or not they wanted their parents with them in the exam room. His results show that the children who had their parents in the room reported higher anxiety than children without their parents.

"Anxious children may perceive their parents as a comfort to them in uncomfortable situations," Gardner noted. "Children who have their parents close to them may also be more willing to report their anxiety than children not with their parents." Not surprisingly, Gardner plans to specialize in pediatric dentistry.

Cardon's study involved children who were randomized to four different study groups: vanilla aroma and music; vanilla aroma with normal dental equipment noise; alcohol odor with music; and alcohol odor with dental equipment noise.

His results weren't as definitive as Gardner's. The analysis showed the study didn't have sufficient statistic power to detect real differences, but he is not deterred. He plans to repeat the project in the future, but with a larger sample size.

Several participants in the student research program have presented research projects at International Association for Dental Research meetings in Acapulco, Boston and Chicago, and will present at future meetings in Seattle and Orlando, noted Anne Meyer, Ph.D., the UB dental school's interim associate dean for research.

Meyer is a research associate professor in the Department of Oral Diagnostic Sciences and a member of the Industry/University Center for Biosurfaces. "There is no requirement for students to become involved in research while completing the D.D.S. program," said Meyer, "but we encourage them to do so. This experience adds an extra dimension to their education

"UB dental school is highly regarded worldwide as a center for dental research. Students who take advantage of this opportunity become far more knowledgeable of their profession regardless of whether or not they choose a career in dental research."

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. The School of Dental Medicine is one of five schools that constitute UB's Academic Health Center. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.