Center for Oral Health Research in Appalachia

Appalachia has the largest burden of oral health problems per capita in the United States. Furthermore, health disparities in oral health outcomes resulting from differences in socioeconomic status occur. The goal of the Center is to identify factors that lead to oral health disparities in children and families in Appalachia. These factors may include genes, microbes, behavior, family interactions, or community characteristics. See our Conceptual Model. Our primary study is examining these factors in a sample of 500 families followed for five years (Study Design). Our long term goal is to identify targets for interventions and create effective interventions to reduce oral health disparities in this population.

Project Objectives:

We plan to
  • Identify how the factors relate to oral health status and oral health-related behaviors.
  • Examine how families moderate these relationships.
  • Examine how children enter life course health trajectories.

Project Support and Collaborators:

This Center was initially formed in 2002 with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH / NIDCR R01-DE014899). Additional support comes from the NIDCR and the MacArthur Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health. The Center represents a collaboration among people from several sites, including

  • University of Pittsburgh
  • West Virginia University
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Iowa
  • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
  • The people of Bradford and Burgettstown in Pennsylvania and the people of Nicholas and Webster counties in West Virginia View Map
  • Key Faculty

Project Status

We have already enrolled close to 2000 individuals in the primary study. The West Virginia sites are seeing these study participants for second visits. In the summer of 2006, the Pennsylvania sites will begin second visits, and we will open a new Pennsylvania site in Wilkinsburg, PA.

Specific Objectives and Publications

Future Directions

In the coming months, we are planning to develop and implement oral health intervention projects at our sites based on preliminary findings.