With the help of the 2018 CURF Jumpstart for Juniors Research Grant, I was able to research with Dr. Mante in the Restorative Dentistry Department of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Our project, “Effect of Radiation on Demineralizaiton and Remineralization of Dental Enamel and Dentin”, aimed to examine the effects of radiation on the hardness of teeth, to determine whether radiation promotes demineralizing behavior in teeth and to identify which treatments are most effective in combating this demineralization.
The study began with collecting roughly 75 extracted teeth from the Oral Surgery Department of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Hospital of University of Pennsylvania and Presbyterian Hospital. I then learned how to use dental cleaning tools to clean these teeth of debris and soft tissue. Once cleaned, I mounted these teeth in acrylic molds by learning how to mix dental acrylic resin. After learning how to operate machines in the Laboratory for the Structure of Matter, I grinded the surfaces of the acrylic molds up to 800 grit and then polished them with 3-micron diamond. We broke the samples into four treatment groups and performed the treatments: no treatment, silver diamide fluoride, cavity shield and MI Varnish. After completing the EHRS cabinet x-ray irradiator training, I then took the samples to the Radiation Oncology Department of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Dental Medicine. Here I exposed the samples to six weeks of 2Gy radiation dosages. At the end of each week the Knoop hardnesses were measured and the results were compared for six weeks across the test groups.
I was extremely grateful for this experience as it allowed me to build on the educational experiences that I had through my basic laboratory courses through my Biological Basis of Behavior major. It was very interesting to be able to apply these skills to a much more serious lab environment compared to the introductory biology/chemistry lab courses where the studies have already been done and everything is laid out.