Advances in dental care occur because of a strong clinical research program. In 2021, the University of Iowa College of Dentistry established the Clinical/Dental Education Research Initiative Support Program (CRISP) to support faculty clinical or dental education research. These efforts are vital for translating new discoveries into improved outcomes for patients (or improved outcomes in dental education).
As part of Iowa’s Dental Student Research Program, Tanner Storbeck and Leonardo Marchini, professor and chair of the Department of Comprehensive Care at Case Western University, previously conducted research and published findings on the factors associated with dry mouth (xerostomia) among older adults. Data for that study was drawn from electronic health records at the University of Iowa only.
This CRISP-funded research project expands the study by drawing from the BigMouth Dental Data Repository—a comprehensive database of de-identified electronic health records provided by a large group of dental schools. The study is now being led by Rohit Nair, clinical assistant professor of preventive and community dentistry, as he works closely with Storbeck.
The results will be more comprehensive and rely on machine learning tools to augment the research. The goal is, ultimately, to improve dental care for older adult patients suffering from dry mouth.