Orthodontics, Research, Students

Fritz to Receive 2 National Research Awards

Dr. Kristen Fritz, a third-year resident in the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry’s graduate orthodontics program, will receive two national awards in June for her research abstract titled “Prevalence of Sleep Disorders in Pediatric Orthodontic Patients.”

The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) will formally announce the presentation of its Student Research Award and its Research Excellence Award to Fritz at the organization’s June 5 annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

The awards recognize the scientific merit of Fritz’s research abstract, said Dr. Fernanda Almeida, chair of the AADSM Research Committee. Dr. Rose Sheats, a School of Dentistry faculty member who co-authored the research and was Fritz’s research mentor, will present the research abstract at the meeting.

Fritz’s study included 100 pediatric orthodontic patients between 7 and 17 years of age. Parents or guardians of each patient filled out the pediatric sleep questionnaire, a previously validated survey used to assess risk for pediatric sleep disordered breathing.  Findings from the questionnaire indicated that an estimated 18 percent of the pediatric orthodontic patients surveyed are at risk for sleep-related breathing disorders; risk for pediatric sleep disordered breathing was not found to be associated with any demographic and craniofacial characteristics that were investigated. The preliminary research findings indicated value in clinicians including screening questions for sleep disordered breathing in their health histories of pediatric patients.

For the student award, Fritz will receive complimentary meeting registration for two people, $1,000 in travel expenses, a $400 cash award and a matching cash award for the orthodontics residency program. For the Research Excellence Award, she will receive a $300 cash prize.

“Sleep medicine in general is a young specialty, and most attention has been directed to researching adult sleep disorders,” said Sheats, associate professor and graduate program director in the Department of Orthodontics. “Investigation of pediatric sleep disorders is gaining momentum, and Dr. Fritz’s findings are very timely. I’m exceedingly proud of her contributions to this important medical condition.”

The AADSM promotes research on the use of oral appliances and dental surgery for the treatment of sleep disordered breathing and provides training and resources for those who work directly with patients.