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Pediatric Resident Receives AAPD Research Fellowship

Dr. Jonathan Hung presented his preliminary findings at the AAPD's recent annual session in Boston.

Investigating Deep Cavities in Children's Molars

Ann Arbor, MI — July 30, 2014 — A pediatric dentistry graduate student at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry has received a postdoctoral research fellowship to compare different ways to treat deep cavities in children’s molars.

Dr. Jonathan Hung, a third-year resident who also practices at U-M’s Mott Children’s Health Center in Ann Arbor and the Hurley Medical Center’s pediatric residency program in Flint, is one of only three pediatric residents nationwide to receive the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry’s 3M ESPE Preventive Pediatric Dentistry Postdoctoral Research Fellowship.

Hung is collaborating with Dr. James Boynton, clinical associate professor of dentistry in the Department of Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry, and Drs. Youngjoo Kim, Tatiana Botero, and Jan Hu to evaluate the results of two different approaches – one, using pulpotomy; the other, indirect pulp treatment – on as many as 150 children ranging from 2-1/2 to 10 years of age.  The study, which began last year, will take five years.

A common procedure in children, a pulpotomy involves surgical removal of soft tissue inside a tooth, the pulp, after the tooth has become severely decayed.  Within the pulp are connective tissues, nerves and blood vessels.  When tissues are irritated, they swell and a child experiences a toothache.  Previously, a team led by Hu studied the biomaterial mineral trioxide aggregate (MTA) in the pulpotomy procedure to determine if that approach might lessen the progressive damage caused by the original bacterial infection.  Indirect pulp treatment is a less invasive technique that can be also used with severely decayed teeth. 

“The goal of our clinical study is to compare the clinical efficacy of both approaches,” Hung said.  He noted that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends using either method when treating children’s molars with deep cavities.  “But we want the results of our study to give dentists better evidence to decide which treatment is best for their patients,” he added.

Hung said Boynton inspired him to get involved in the research project.  “Research was not a priority for me when I began my pediatric residency at Michigan,” Hung said.  “But Dr. Boynton’s enthusiasm inspired me and, ultimately, it led to this recognition I received from AAPD.  I’m grateful to both Dr. Boynton and AAPD.”

Boynton notes that University of Michigan School of Dentistry graduate students have had a long history of scholarly success.

“Many of our residents have done outstanding research and have been honored for their efforts,” noting recent AAPD Graduate Student Research Award winners Drs. Karen Uston, John Sushynski, and Aimee Picard.  “The outstanding faculty mentorship here has led to valuable educational experiences for our graduate students and has also led to important research findings.”

Hung said the results of the study will give him confidence to make even better clinical decisions that help his patients now and when he is in private practice.”