Dr. Kimon Divaris was named this year’s recipient of the Class of 1958 Distinguished Service Award. The award is the highest award granted to recognize research conducted under the sponsorship of the School of Dentistry. Divaris will receive the award at the 2013 Best of Dentistry Gala dinner this Friday.
“Being named the recipient of this award is a true honor,” said Divaris. “I am humbled and flattered to have my research recognized among the best at the school, which is so widely known for producing groundbreaking dental research.”
Divaris received the award for his paper, entitled “Surface-Specific Efficacy of Fluoride Varnish in Caries Prevention in the Primary Detention: Results of a Community Randomized Clinical Trial.” The study sought to determine the extent to which fluoride varnish had differing effects according to primary tooth anatomy and baseline tooth pathology (caries or developmental defects of the enamel). Its findings add to the accumulating body of evidence demonstrating the efficacy of fluoride varnish in preventing caries in primary dentition. Study co-authors were Dr. Gary Slade, senior author and John W. Stamm Distinguished Professor in the Department of Dental Ecology and Dr. John Preisser, professor of biostatistics at the UNC School of Global Public Health.
“Fluoride varnish is an effective, commonly used caries prevention agent, but its effects among different tooth surfaces are poorly understood,” explained Divaris. “Most evidence of fluoride varnish caries-preventive efficacy is derived from observational studies of person-level caries risk, whereas studies in the primary dentition are sparse.”
During the study, Divaris examined 543 young children aged 3 to 5 years that were enrolled in a community-randomized clinical trial in the Australian Northern Territory. Children in the intervention communities received fluoride varnish treatments every 6 months and follow up evaluations occurred for 2 years. His results showed that over the 2-year study period, biannual fluoride varnish applications reduced the surface-level caries risk by 25 percent. The intervention had greatest efficacy on surfaces that were sound at the start of the intervention. Among these sound tooth surfaces, maxillary anterior facial surfaces, or the front of a person’s upper front teeth, received the most caries-preventive benefit.
Members of the UNC School of Dentistry’s D.D.S. class of 1958 established the award with contributions to the Dental Foundation of North Carolina. The purpose of the award is to recognize research conducted by the faculty of the School of Dentistry that has “the greatest potential for direct contributions to the practice of dentistry and dental health generally.” It carries the recognition of excellence by colleagues and peers and a cash award.