Jin Xiao, DDS, PhD, an EIOH assistant professor, has received $856,669 to study the association between yeast and the onset of Early Childhood Caries.
This career development award funded by NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Disorders will investigate the prevalence of yeast in the mouth of infants who are a high risk of Severe Early Childhood caries and their mothers, the association between oral yeast and onset of early childhood caries and the interactions between oral yeast and S. mutans in early life.
“I’m studying to see if yeast, or C. albicans, may be the bigger, but easier to treat culprit,” Dr. Xiao said. “Over the past 10 years, there has been some initial research showing that yeast is present among ECC cases. More recent studies show yeast is prevalent in the oral cavity in 80-90% of children with ECC, compared to 15-20% of caries-free children.”
Dr. Xiao is studying mother-infant dyads with socioeconomic disadvantages, the pathological role of C. albicans in the onset of severe ECC, and its maternal influence. She will further clarify the association between C. albicans and other cariogenic bacteria and how they contribute to severe ECC. Her study results will provide rationales of how and when to use antifungal treatment to prevent ECC.
In 2017, Dr. Xiao was awarded a $300,000, two-year grant from the National Institute for Dental Craniofacial Research and National Center for Advancing Translational Research for similar research.
Early Childhood Caries remains one of the most common chronic childhood diseases, with nearly 1.8 billion new cases each year worldwide. It affects children younger than age 6, and the majority of kids affected live in poverty. In the U.S., children miss 55 million hours of school every year as a direct result of oral pain. Untreated cavities turn into painful infections, making it difficult to think, sleep and eat. There’s a 40 percent rate of recurrence, and taxpayers pay some $1.5 billion each year on treatment.
“We need to find a way to better identify high risk children as well as find more effective preventive strategies,” Dr. Xiao said. “Our previous findings about the strong maternal influence on the presence of yeast in children’s mouths might open a new opportunity to prevent ECC during pregnancy and could shift the preventive strategy to before birth.”
The award will provide Dr. Xiao with experience, training, and research accomplishments that will lay the foundation for a future applications to
investigate the effectiveness of using antifungal therapy for the children at high caries risk to prevent the onset and recurrence of S-ECC. Results from this cohort study and subsequent studies may lead to pathways for developing novel caries predictive and preventive strategies from a C. albicans perspective.