Prevention and Early Diagnosis

Preventing oral disease is more cost-effective and brings better health outcomes than treating it. If treatment is necessary, the earier it commences, the more effective it will be. Our Prevention and Early Diagnosis research program is developing novel preventive products, diagnostic tools and oral health promotion interventions . 

There are five projects within this research program:

  • Development of Diagnostics
  • Novel Preventive Products
  • Functional Foods and Beverages
  • Recaldent™ Process Development
  • Oral Health Promotion

Development of Diagnostics

This project is investigating methods for the early identification of periodontal disease and oral cancer.

Periodontal disease diagnostic

Periodontal disease is associated with complex health problems, including risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and pregnancy complications. Around 20% of Australians experience moderate or severe periodontitis. The disease currently cannot be diagnosed until symptoms become clinically visible. Our researchers are investigating whether earlier diagnosis of periodontal disease can be made by identifying bacteria in the mouth. 

Above: Porphyromonas gingivalis bacteria associated with peridontal disease

Oral cancer diagnostic

Oral cancers are the sixth most common cancer worldwide. Researchers in the Oral Health CRC are aiming to increase the knowledge base on oral cancers by gaining information about mucosal changes during the onset of oral cancer, the role of risk factors such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and alcohol, and whether early diagnosis can be made by observing changes in cells in the mouth. This research is still in the early stages. For updates, please use the Contact Us page of this website.

Novel Preventive Products

Research in this project is investigating ways of producing over-the-counter dental healthcare products with improved abilities in preventing dental caries (or dental decay). Potential products include dry mouth products, toothpaste, alcohol-free mouthrinse and tooth varnish.

Functional Foods and Beverages

Our research in this project is investigating the addition of 'tooth friendly' properties in foods and beverages to minimise enamel erosion and prevent dental caries. Potential products include sports drinks and chewing gum. 

RECALDENT™ Process Development

Recaldent™ is the trademark name of the protein complex CPP-ACP which occurs naturally in cows' milk. Developed by Professor Eric Reynolds, CEO of the Oral Health CRC and Head of the Melbourne Dental School, Recaldent™ can help reverse and prevent dental caries. The Oral Health CRC along with industry participant Cadbury Enterprises continues to investigate the most efficient means of producing Recaldent™. For more information on Recaldent™, please see the Products section of this website.

Oral Health Promotion

Researchers in this project are developing and trialling new approaches to promoting oral health, particularly to 'at risk' groups of people including children, the elderly, people living with mental illness and rural populations.

Dr Nathan Cochrane  

The Oral Health CRC acknowledges the unique and enormous contribution made to its work by Dr Nathan Cochrane (BDSc Hons, BDent Stud, PhD), particularly in the field of cariology. Nathan was recognised for his commitment and excellence with many awards, including the IADR Basil Bibby Award for Excellence in Cariology Research and the 2012 Young Professional of the Year Award from the Australian Board of Professions. His inspiring contribution is greatly missed.