In service to our members and for the benefit of the public, the ADA Division of Science provides guidance and expertise regarding critical and emerging issues that impact the dental profession and public health. Emerging issues that could influence the environment, occupational health and safety, or patient care are identified by the Council on Scientific Affairs and carefully researched in order to provide the most current information.
In addition, the ADA Division of Science Research and Laboratories staff collaborates with the ADA Standards Administration department to actively lead the development and implementation of ANSI/ADA and ISO standardized approaches for in-vitro testing of dental products that correlate with clinical performance. Other research collaborations include the compilation of Health Screening Program data and external collaborations with the ADAF Volpe Research Center, as well as the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry.
Investigative research findings are communicated through multiple venues for scientific information exchange, including peer reviewed publications, the ADA Professional Product Review, and presentations at national and international scientific meetings.
Critical and Emerging IssuesMercury and Amalgam
Dental amalgam is an essential component of restorative dentistry. As these materials are known to contain mercury, there is increasing concern and controversy over their use in oral health treatment procedures. In the effort to contribute relevant and up-to-date scientific information related to this critical and emerging issue, the ADA Laboratories recently conducted an evaluation of amalgam separator products to provide information on their effectiveness and potential environmental impact. This work was featured in the ADA Professional Product Review and will be accompanied by future evaluations of new product technologies. In addition, the ADA Division of Science continues to deliver scientifically sound updates and commentaries on mercury and amalgam.
A common starting material in the manufacture of methacrylates used in dental sealants and bonding materials, bisphenol A (BPA) can be found in resin-based dental materials as a residual component. The potential link between BPA and adverse effects on human health and development has become a source of significant controversy. As both dentists and the general public grow increasingly aware of the issue, there is a need to provide the practitioner with useful information to address patient concerns. In addition, it is important to survey products currently on the market and collect up-to-date experimental data as a way to inform the dental community of possible exposure to BPA. Following an informational ADA Professional Product Review article describing the origin of BPA in dental materials and the acceptable daily exposure limits, a thorough evaluation of several resin-based dental products is currently underway.
An enduring critical and emerging issue in the field of dentistry, infection control is a recurring topic on the Research agenda. Current and ongoing projects include safe injection practices for needle use, surface disinfectant use and effectiveness, latex glove integrity, and disease transmission associated with dental unit water, including an evaluation of water treatment products.
In the effort to improve accredited consensus standards, as well as to address gaps through new methods and instrumentation, the ADA Division of Science Research and Laboratories staff is actively involved in many standards-related research projects. Current work involves the standardization of methods focused on Antibacterial Biofilm Treatments for Dental Unit Water Delivery Systems, Powered Toothbrushes Head Retention, and Cyclic Fatigue for Endodontic Rotary Instruments.
Health Screening Program
The Health Screening Program (HSP) began in 1964 and ran through 2012. The HSP focused on the research and education of occupational safety and public health. During the 30+ years of its activity, more than 60,000 dental professionals participated in the HSP, creating one of the largest databases of information on potential risks associated with the practice of dentistry. The ADA Research and Laboratories team is currently compiling this unmatched, extremely valuable data into a central database for future epidemiology research.
Contact UsADA Division of Science
211 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611