Oral Health Disparities



SODM Oral Health Disparities Team


We are the Oral Health Disparities group located in Cleveland, OH at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine in the Department of Community Dentistry. Our goal is to address oral health disparities through research conducted in community settings. Our recent projects involve interventions to improve oral health for both children and older adults in Northeast Ohio.

We have completed many multi-site clinical trials addressing poor dental utilization and untreated caries in children and adults. Behavioral and system level interventions have been implemented in pediatric primary care practices and within public school systems to improve parents/caregivers perception of dental caries. A new school-based referral system for dental care was created, as well as validated illness perception questionnaires for parents/caregivers of young children and older adults. We have also studied the relationship between birth weight and early childhood caries (ECC) in a cohort of pre-term very low birth weight (VLBW) and full-term normal birth weight (NBW) infants, and examined the effects of xylitol gummy bear snacks on dental caries progression in primary and permanent teeth of inner-city school children.

Currently, we are implementing projects to treat active decay in low income older adults living in community housing. The comparative effectiveness of two interventions that can be provided where the participants live are being investigated. We have also completed formative work and pilot testing for a clinical trial in adult primary care practices. Interventions include theory-based oral health education and skills training, along with EHR system changes for oral health documentation. The goal is to increase dental visits, improve oral health and overall wellness. This project will soon transition to a clinical trial to test the interventions.


  • Portrait of Dr. Suchitra Nelson

    Suchitra Nelson, PhD

    Professor and Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research
    Department of Community Dentistry
    School of Dental Medicine
    Department of Population & Quantitative Health Sciences
    School of Medicine

    Email: suchitra.nelson@case.edu

    Phone: 216.368.3469