RESEARCHING FOR BETTER TREATMENTS AND PREVENTION
Since Molar Hypomineralisation is thought to be an acquired disorder, there is good reason to believe that it will become preventable once its causes are known ((read more)). Thus a global need exists to learn more about where and when Molar Hypomineralisation occurs (i.e. epidemiology) with a view to finding clues about its cause. Allied questions relate to the costs associated with this prevalent condition (disease burden). Laboratory studies, both basic and applied, are needed to characterise the properties of affected teeth and to investigate how these developmental defects came about (i.e. pathology). Fourthly, a major need "right here and now" is to improve the available treatments for Molar Hypomineralisation, many of which suffer a high failure rate. Urgent research questions within these three areas are outlined below.
To build a strong and cohesive research capability, The D3 Group has brought together key players from across the dental sector (i.e. practitioners, scientists, public health, industry).
Together with our international and national connections, this provides an unprecedented opportunity to tackle the Molar Hypomineralisation problem at global and grass-roots levels.
Funding for dental research is very limited due in large part to a general underappreciation of the costs that dental problems bring to our societies. As always, quality research is expensive yet it seems reasonable to expect that research collectives such as The D3 Group will provide for strong efficiencies when converting research funds into useful discoveries and treatments.
Prevalence data for Molar Hypomineralisation is rather patchy, raising questions about how bad the problem is in unstudied countries – notable gaps exist both for well-developed populations (e.g. North America) and those less so. Another question is whether Molar Hypomineralisation is on the increase – many clinicians say yes, but on the other hand it could just reflect their increasing awareness of the problem. A pressing need exists to address these and related questions using improved, globally-standardised approaches.
Costs of Molar Hypomineralisation can be identified at multiple levels including affected families (treatments, quality of life), dental practitioners (failed treatments), medical profession (dental emergencies) and the taxpayer come public health system (e.g. hospital services including general anaesthetics). There are many reasons to expect these costs are substantial if not massive, but hard data are generally lacking and so the case for research isn't as strong as it should be.
By analogy to dental fluorosis (where dental hypomineralisation is "acquired" from a known cause – i.e. excessive fluoride), the most pressing question for our field is "what causes Molar Hypomineralisation?". If that tough nut can be cracked then it seems likely that this Hypomineralisation problem could become largely preventable, as for dental fluorosis. To pursue such preventive goals we need to filter out the key contenders from the myriad of candidates that have been suggested to play a causal role (e.g. medicines, vaccines, illnesses and fevers etc). (read more) We also need to better understand how the Hypomineralised defects actually happen during development (i.e. their pathogenesis), since that too should give clues about cause. To tackle these crucial questions, scientists from a range of disciplines need to be engaged (e.g. toxicologists, biochemists, pathologists and biophysical scientists).
Dentists have many questions about how best to treat the various manifestations of Molar Hypomineralisation – many of their uncertainties concern how best to use existing approaches and materials, and others relate to inadequacies of the status quo (e.g. most dental materials have been optimised for use on normal teeth, not abnormal ones). Research is also needed to guide development of treatment aids that help clinicians with the diagnosis and characterisation of DDD.