Laboratory, translational and clinical research on dental biomaterials, cariology and beyond.

The faculty and students from the Department of Operative Dentistry conduct clinical and laboratory research to develop novel biomaterials and therapies to prevent and manage caries, as well as to improve the quality and longevity of current dental treatments.  The department’s commitment to scholarship development provides many opportunities for pre- and post-doctoral students as well as for faculty to conduct research aiming to improve oral health and patient care. 

Our faculty work with internal and external collaborators on research projects funded by state and federal agencies including the NIDCR, the College of Dentistry Seed Grant program and other funding initiatives, professional organizations, foundations, and dental materials industry.  The Department has access to well-equipped laboratories and excellent clinical facilities for research and the development of clinical techniques.

All our laboratories and clinical areas are routinely used by faculty, graduate students and by a select number of pre-doctoral students for research.

Core Areas of Research


Dental Substrate and Biomaterials 

Dental biomaterials research includes the development and evaluation of current and novel restorative and reparative dental biomaterials in clinical and laboratory studies. We have experts in this field working on several projects with the goal to:

  • Study the biochemical and biomechanical properties of dental tissues in order to understand the establishment and progression noncarious lesions

  • Material development/evaluation aiming to improve tooth-restorative materials interfaces.

  • Improve the adhesion between the tooth and both direct and indirect dental materials by enhancing the material and/or the tooth properties.

  • Investigate the clinical application and longevity of dental biomaterials related to oral health.

Computer monitor

Digital Dentistry and Esthetics

Our department has made significant contribution to Digital Dentistry research and education. Current research projects investigate digital technologies and materials for use and development of chair-side CAD/CAM restorations and 3D printing of dental restorative materials aiming to improve the dental restorative outcomes and patient care. In addition, our faculty have worked in collaboration with other programs in the US to develop and implement a successful digital dentistry curriculum.

graphic of tooth

Minimally Invasive Dentistry and Cariology

Our team of experts in Cariology and Caries Management investigates how to best manage caries as a complex disease that involves interdisciplinary care of the patient. That involves the study and development of therapies to manage lesions applying the concepts of minimally invasive dentistry, including means to increase the life span of restorations and repair techniques. Operative Dentistry faculty are world-leaders in the development of guidelines to promote a patient-centered risk-based approach to manage dental caries. In addition, our faculty are experts in the characterization of endogenous mechanisms and their interactions with the oral microbiome driving the progression of dentinal caries lesions. 

Graduate robes and hood

Dental Educational Research

Operative Dentistry faculty have developed research to improve student learning and engagement by introducing innovative materials, methods, tools, and technology in topics related to Dental Anatomy and Operative Dentistry.