Areas of Focus

Our focused research areas

IU School of Dentistry faculty are making great strides in research. Current areas of focus are cariology, bone and tissue engineering, community dentistry, and dental informatics.

Cariology

Dental caries (also known as cavities) remains the most common chronic disease in children and adults worldwide. Our goal is to build from our longstanding history of leadership in the areas of cariology research to advance new tools and methodologies to aid in the diagnosis, risk assessment, and management of dental hard tissue diseases and conditions. Our involvement is at both the patient and population level, looking to improve the treatment and outcomes of individual patients as well as identify and address systemic issues that affect people across our local, national, and global communities.

Bone and tissue engineering

The maintenance of healthy bones, teeth, and gum tissue is a critical component of oral health, and poor oral health not only increases pain, but also affects our overall well-being. Many factors contribute to skeletal bone loss and diseases of the oral cavity, such as infection, systemic diseases, diet, patient behavior, and our genes. The loss of bone mass makes bones more fragile and increases the risk of fracture. Bone loss in the jaw can also lead to tooth movement and tooth loss. We are addressing bone and tissue regeneration through innovative studies in the areas of bone cell biology, oral microbiology, neuro-regeneration, fracture repair, and dental biomaterials.

Community dentistry

We realize that for our research to be valuable, it must make the leap from the laboratory to the community. Our goal is to develop and sustain community-based educational and research programs, as well as to integrate community service into our educational curriculum on a fundamental level. The school operates multiple service and research programs, putting theory into practice from local schools and clinics to global service programs.

Faculty researchers in community dentistry

Dental informatics

The analysis of electronic health record data and the implementation of decision support tools to promote preventive management are the newest mechanisms in the global battle to increase oral health. Biomedical informatics refers to processing data gathered from various sources into meaningful information to advance research and patient care. Our primary objective is to enhance patient care through improved data capture and documentation, and phenotyping oral diseases using electronic health record data. We are also involved in the development, implementation, and evaluation of decision support tools to aid in the diagnosis, risk assessment, and preventive management of oral diseases.

Faculty researchers in dental informatics

Thankam Thyvalikakath

Learn more about what we’re doing in the School of Dentistry