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Conducting Research During Dental School

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I’ve heard many dental students express interest in conducting research. Whether a first-timer, holder of a PhD or Master’s Degree, former lab assistant or a student who worked on research during undergrad, like myself, I recommend going for it! Why? Dentistry is a field of continuing education. Conducting research helps us future dentists stay abreast with the advances in the field and learn about new materials and techniques that could possibly become the standard of care.

 

Although our course loads are rigorous and most free time is spent either studying or maintaining sanity, conducting research is not much of an additional task. In fact, I believe that research both enhances and compliments our dental education. In Operative Dentistry for example, we learn about the use of dental materials and instrumentation to complete restorations. My research focuses on bioactive dental cements, a material used for cementation of crowns.

 

Presently, resin modified glass ionomers (RMGI) are predominately used as cements in dentistry; however, one disadvantage of RMGI cements is lack of adequate strength and toughess.1 Bioactive dental cements, on the other hand, contain numerous oxides which help to produce a strong bond with tooth structure through production of hydroxyapatite.2 Bioactive dental cements are hypothesized to greatly increase in shear bond strength over time and my research tests this. We are using two bioactive dental cements new to the market and the knowledge that we gain could possibly influence the future standard of care for our patients.

 

On top of building a relationship with faculty members, research has allowed me to learn about an exciting new dental material. So why not do research? There’s so much to gain, and so little to lose!

 

Khoroushi, Maryam, and FatemeKeshani. "A review of glass-ionomers: From conventional glass-ionomer to bioactive glass-ionomer." Dental research journal 10, no. 4 (2013): 411.

Hench, Larry L. "The story of Bioglass®." Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine 17, no. 11 (2006): 967-978.