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Is Chocolate Good for your Teeth?

CU Dental faculty, staff and students present fascinating findings, from chocolate to academic burnout, at national dental education and research conferences.

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Written by Laura Ramsey on March 5, 2024

When dental student Summer Booth expressed interest to her professor about starting a research project, he mentioned a substance in chocolate, theobromine, could have cavity-preventing properties—and she was sold.

“I was immediately intrigued by the idea that ingredients in chocolate, of all things, could actually be good for our teeth,” said Booth, a second-year student at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine (CU SDM). She swiftly got to work with Professor and Assistant Director of Orthodontic Research Clifton Carey, PhD. They studied theobromine in the form of a rinse, compared to a water rinse, and found it to significantly prevent the demineralization of the human enamel samples. 


Summer Booth (left) presents her research poster to Associate Professor Doug Wilson, DMD, MS, (center) and fellow students at CU Dental Research Day. 

Further studies are planned to compare the data to a fluoride control, as well as a synergistic trial with theobromine and fluoride to see if they can prevent erosion even better together than independently. 

Booth noted, “Despite fluoride being consistently proven as the gold standard to protect teeth from decay, there is still a growing population of fluoride-concerned people. If this becomes a larger issue in the future, theobromine could serve as an alternative in maintaining the enamel mineralization in patients who desire such an option.” 

Unfortunately, eating more chocolate is not the answer. Booth said, “The sugars would likely counteract any good the theobromine could do for the enamel. But dark chocolate does have more theobromine than milk chocolate if you have to pick one!” 

Booth presented her research poster at the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) General Session & Exhibition in New Orleans, Louisiana. 


Dentists take on the Big Easy 

Thousands of dental professionals, students and researchers from across the country gathered in New Orleans for back-to-back conferences: the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Annual Session March 9-12 and the IADR General Session March 13-16. The CU SDM participated in both with faculty, staff and student presentations.

Faculty Development Program Director Jennipher Murphy, MS Ed, has been attending the ADEA Annual Session since 2013. She said, “ADEA is a perfect opportunity for anybody at any level to go and get inspired, and to really have an understanding of what it takes to be an academic in dental education versus clinical practice.”

Murphy was a contributing author on two ADEA posters this year. She said, “It’s a very community-oriented, collaborative atmosphere. You get the opportunity to talk to peers about your idea, what your project entails, and to collect real feedback about what next steps might look like.” 


Jennipher Murphy, MS Ed, with Assistant Professor and Director of Diversity Programming Amisha Singh, DDS '15, and Program Director of Digital Education and Academic Technology Michael Lampe, EdD, at the 2023 ADEA Annual Session. 


Examining burnout in dental students 

For Assistant Professor Yanira Owens, RDH, MHA, EdD., this was her third year attending and first year presenting at ADEA. She noticed the existing research on academic burnout, mental health and wellness specific to dental students was largely done in other countries. She said, “I took that gap in literature and decided to study it with a twist, focusing on the differences in dimensions of burnout between traditional dental students and advanced standing international students.” 


Yanira Owens, RDH, MHA, EdD, participated in the poster session at CU Dental Research Day.  

In the study, student participants completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey for Students (MBI-GS(S)), which measures burnout in three dimensions: exhaustion (feelings of chronic stress and fatigue from demanding academic workloads), cynicism (a distant attitude towards academic studies or people) and professional efficacy (feeling a lack of competence and a decreased sense of accomplishment, regardless of prior success).

The results showed that both cohorts of students experienced academic burnout, and traditional dental students experienced significantly more burnout along the dimensions of exhaustion and cynicism. Research shows that health profession students who experience stress and burnout during their dental school years, and don't learn how to cope or manage it effectively, will likely continue to experience burnout in their professional practice. Owens concluded, “The presence of burnout syndrome in both cohorts suggests the need to develop program-based strategies that aim to alleviate academic burnout, enhance learning outcomes, and promote the wellbeing of the future dental workforce.” 

Owens enjoyed seeing all the posters and educational sessions from CU Dental colleagues throughout the conference.

With so much to learn and explore at both the ADEA and IADR conferences each year, Murphy suggests a divide-and-conquer approach: “Set aside time in advance to examine the conference schedules and figure out which sessions you want to attend. If there are multiple sessions on your list that are at the same time, see if a colleague can go to one and exchange notes after.” 


CU Dental presentations at ADEA 

Sunday, March 10, 2024 

10:30 a.m. Education Session 

"Expert Tips on How to Publish in the JDE: Making Your Data Stronger"

Tamanna Tiwari, BDS, MDS, MPH, et al. 

1 p.m. Poster Session 

"Clinical Cases and Complete Anatomy Application Opportunities in General Pathology"

Tanya Wright, DDS; Jennipher Murphy, MS Ed; Catherine Flaitz, DDS, MS 

"Enhancing Student Learning through Self-Reflection: Bridging Gaps in Curricular"

Kunjan Kakar, DDS (ISP ’10), MS, BDS; Amisha Singh, DDS ’15; Jennipher Murphy, MS Ed

"Problem-based Learning Impact on Dental Trauma Education in Predoctoral Curriculum"

Chaitanya Puranik, PhD, MDS, MS, BDS; Samantha Bothwell, MS; Tracy de Peralta, DMD, PhD, MClinEd

"Enhancing Patient Communication: Avatars as a Tool for Health Promotion"

Amisha Singh, DDS ’15; Michael Lampe, EdD; Denise Kassebaum, DDS, MS; Tracy de Peralta, DMD, PhD, MClinEd

"Examining Burnout between Traditional and International Dental Students Training in the U.S."

Yanira Owens, RDH, MHA, EdD

"Beyond the Handpiece: Discovering Career Opportunities in Dental Education"

Austin Adams (DDS Class of 2025)

Monday, March 11, 2024 

10 a.m. Poster Session 

"A novel method for grading pre-clinical restorations using a digital workflow"

Thomas Greany, DDS; Cameron Birch (DDS Class of 2024); Devan Cruz (DDS Class of 2025)

"Innovative pre-clinical simulated crown experience using 3D modeled crowns"

Krithika Baskaran, BDS, DDS; Thomas Greany, DDS; Kunjan Kakar, DDS (ISP ’10), MS, BDS; Camile Hochheimer, PhD; Grace Bosma, MS

"Oral Hygiene Challenge session as an approach to improve the quality of oral hygiene instructions"

Karo Parsegian, DMD, MDSc, PhD, et al. 

1:30 p.m. Education Session

"New Beginnings: School Competency Statements for Continuous Education Program Improvement"

Archana Meethil, BDS, MDS, MDSc, et al. 



CU Dental presentations at IADR 

Wednesday, March 13, 2024 

10:40 a.m. Symposium 

“Integrating Behavioral and Oral Health sciences: Key Considerations”

Tamanna Tiwari, BDS, MDS, MPH

1:30 p.m. Symposium

“Big Data in Oral Health: Innovations and Applications”

Tamanna Tiwari, BDS, MDS, MPH

3:15 p.m. Symposium

“PKCdelta Regulation of the Radiation Response in the Salivary Gland”

Mary Reyland, PhD

Thursday, March 14, 2024 

11 a.m. Poster Session 

“Role of Antigingivitis/Anticaries Dentifrices on In Vitro Root Surface Caries”

Catherine Flaitz, DDS, MS; John Hicks, DDS, MS, PhD, MD

“Single application of antimicrobial quaternary ammonium K21 reduces plaque cariogenicity”

Lucas DiCiccio, DDS; Jennifer Terrio, DDS ’20; Craig Shellhart, DDS, MS; Gerald Minick, DDS, MS, MSD; Terri Tilliss, RDH, MS, MA, PhD; Clifton Carey, PhD 

2 p.m. Oral Session 

“Smart Polymers to Tailor the Oral Microbiome Away from Cariogenicity”

Devatha Nair, PhD

2:40 p.m. Symposium

“Novel Polymeric Materials for Dental and Biomedical Applications”

Jeffrey Stansbury, PhD

3:45 p.m. Poster Session 

"Promoting homelessness Empathy through Virtual Reality among Dental Students”

Michael Lampe, EdD; Deidre Callanan, RDH, DC, MPH; Tracy de Peralta, DMD, PhD, MClinEd

“Role of Sodium Fluoride Dentifrices With and Without Bioavailable Calcium and Phosphate on In Vitro Enamel Caries”

John Hicks, DDS, MS, PhD, MD; Catherine Flaitz, DDS, MS

“Using gamification to increase awareness and use of haptics post-pandemic”

Thomas Greany, DDS; Eric Mediavilla, DDS ’00; Michael Lampe, EdD

Friday, March 15, 2024 

11 a.m. Poster Session 

“Insight Into the Stimulatory Effects of IGF1 on Odontoblast Differentiation”

Karo Parsegian, DMD, MDSc, PhD

2:30 p.m. Keynote and Oral Session 

“Advances in Oral Epidemiology Research” "Comparative Analysis of Two Big Data Systems in Oral Health"  

Tamanna Tiwari, BDS, MDS, MPH 

3 p.m. Oral Session 

“Turning Inkjet Photopolymer Formulations for Enhanced Properties”

Austyn Salazar; Jeffrey Stansbury, PhD

3:45 p.m. Poster Session 

“Fluoride Enhanced Orthodontic Elastics: Evaluating Prevention of Demineralization & Erosion”

Joshua Crane (DDS Class of 2026), Clifton Carey, PhD

“The Role of Age and Sex In Periodontal Therapy Outcomes”

Karo Parsegian, DMD, MDSc, PhD

“Theobromine slows enamel erosion and lesion progression”

Summer Booth (DDS Class of 2026), Clifton Carey, PhD

Saturday, March 16, 2024 

3:45 p.m. Poster Session 

“Improving Accuracy of Diagnosing Intraoral Conditions Utilizing an Interactive Flowchart”

Amy DeStaffany; Tanya Wright, DDS; Karo Parsegian, DMD, MDSc, PhD

“Assessing EHR Data Accuracy: A Need for Standardized Collection Methods”

Maxim Kondratenko (DDS Class of 2025); Nihmath Nasiha Maliq, MPH; Tarun Sachdeva, DDS (ISP ’23); Gary Kostbade (DDS Class of 2025); Tamanna Tiwari, BDS, MDS, MPH


Note: These presentation lists may not be exhaustive; please refer to conference schedules for the most current information.