A general dental practitioner from South Yorkshire has been awarded more than Â£164,000 to investigate whether dental filling materials that contain plastics act as environmental pollutants.
Dr Steven Mulligan, an associate dentist at practices in Rotherham and Sheffield and Honorary Clinical fellow at Sheffield University, will lead a two-year research project that is expected to commence in January 2014. The project will be conducted under the supervision of the academic advisor Prof. Nicolas Martin from the School of Clinical Dentistry, the University of Sheffield.
The purpose of the research is to undertake a comprehensive scientific assessment of the potential pollutant risk to the environment from the chemicals in resin-based materials used in dental fillings. As well as examining the potential risk, it will also consider perceptions of that risk held by dentists and members of the public.
The study is being funded by the Shirley Glasstone Hughes (SGH) Trust Fund. The Trust was founded in 1991 after Shirley Glasstone Hughes, a dentist, researcher, and BDA member, left a legacy to provide dental research grants. It funds research into primary dental care, examining issues that will help professionals in practice. Further details of the Trust and its work are available on the Curious About web pages.
Professor Liz Kay, Chair of the SGH Management Committee, said: â€œThe wider environmental impact of restorative materials in dentistry has been a high-profile issue in recent years, with the United Nations Environment Programme working towards a binding treaty on the use of Mercury in amalgam fillings giving the issue particular prominence. With that process expected to conclude later this year, this research will provide important information about the environmental impact of alternative restorative materials that may help to inform dental practice in the future.â€
Grants in previous years have funded studies on topics including the impact of fear on clinical decision making and oral health inequalities.