Professor of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery & Diagnostic Sciences
College of Dentistry
Gregg Gilbert’s research involves improving our understanding of why diverse population groups seek specific dental services, and what long-term benefits are derived from that care. Gilbert’s research has attracted more than $3.9 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1993, including a $1 million grant beginning in September 1999.
Gilbert is quick to emphasize that this record of funding, and “most importantly, all that has been learned from this research, only came about because of an extraordinarily energetic and unselfish interdisciplinary team of faculty and staff at the colleges of Dentistry, Health Professions, Medicine, and Liberal Arts and Sciences.”
The bulk of Gilbert’s research since 1993 has involved a longitudinal study called the Florida Dental Care Study. This study employs an innovative approach that directly links clinical examination data gathered by faculty on the project, measures of oral health and quality of life as reported by the 873 participants in the study, use of specific dental services, characteristics of the participants, and characteristics of the dental practices throughout Florida and Georgia that are being used to treat study participants.
“The widely publicized improvements in dental health that were documented in the 1980s led many to erroneously conclude that dental health problems were no longer common,” Gilbert says. “Using a wide range of measures of dental health and dental health-related quality of life, we have documented that quite the opposite is true.
If other conditions were as common as oral disease and all the pain, suffering, embarrassment and poor quality of life associated with it, then these conditions would be considered ’epidemic.’
“With the Florida Dental Care Study, we are improving our understanding of how dental problems change over time, with and without dental care,” he adds. “Among other reasons, we need to understand the role that dental care plays because we spend about $50 billion each year on dental care in the United States.