Pediatric Dentistry, Research, Students

Jackson Honored for Pediatric Dentistry Research

Dr. Stephanie Blumenshine Jackson, a third-year resident in the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry’s pediatric dentistry graduate program, received national recognition in May for her research into how poor oral health may affect children’s school performance.

Jackson received the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s 2010 Ralph E. McDonald Award at the organization’s 63rd Annual Session, held in Chicago. The honor, which comes with a cash award, is a judged competition that recognizes the Graduate Student Research Award recipient who has produced the most outstanding research project.

Specifically, her research examined missed school days related to routine dental care and missed days related to dental pain and infection. Analysis of telephone surveys with the parents of 2,183 schoolchildren statewide indicated that children with poor oral health were three times more likely to miss school due to dental pain. Preliminary findings indicated that school absence for routine dental care was not significantly associated with poor academic performance; however, absence related to dental pain was associated with poor performance.

Jackson’s adviser was Dr. William F. Vann Jr., William Demeritt distinguished professor in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry. Research collaborators were Dr. Jessica Y. Lee, associate professor of pediatric dentistry and also associate professor of health policy and management in the Gillings School of Global Public Health; Dr. Jonathan B. Kotch, the Carol Remmer Angle endowed professor in children’s environmental health in the Gillings School of Global Public Health; and Bhavna T. Pahel, postdoctoral fellow with the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.

After graduating from the pediatric dentistry program this month (June), Jackson plans to join a private pediatric dental practice in Charlotte.

The mission of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, an organization with about 7,600 members, is to advocate policies, guidelines and programs that promote optimal oral health and oral health care for children.