The AAP’s SUNSTAR Innovation grant supported member research that aimed to identify novel and innovative evidence-based periodontal treatment approaches to enhance patient care.

Over three years, a $250,000 grant program was divided among six winning principal investigators, who presented their research at subsequent Annual Meetings. The Grants addressed the following objectives:

  • Innovative treatments and research that served to alleviate the high burden of periodontitis on the U.S. population.
  • Interdisciplinary team approaches to treating patients with periodontal disease that focused efforts on preserving the patient’s natural dentition, particularly among patients at risk.
  • Novel approaches to achieve patient compliance with oral hygiene instruction/treatment plans using modern, evidence-based diagnostics and modern patient education tools during and between dental visits.

Read more about the winning applications:


  • Kevin M. Byrd, DDS, PhD
    An Atlas of Experimental Gingivitis in Humans at Single Cell Resolution

With this project, Dr. Byrd aims to develop chairside tools to predict gingivitis to periodontitis conversion (i.e. at-risk individuals) and to develop specific adjuvant therapies for periodontitis-afflicted individuals based on the principles of precision medicine. “Recently, there has been an exponential increase in our understanding of human diseases,” says Dr. Byrd. “However, even for common oral diseases like periodontitis, we have just begun to grasp the complexity of interactions at play.”


  • Maria L. Geisinger, DDS, MS
    Development of Multimedia Educational Materials for Caregivers to Enable Optimal Oral Hygiene Provisions for Patients with Dementia

Dr. Geisinger intends to develop multimedia tools that can be used to educate professional and familial caregivers for patients with moderate to severe dementia about delivery of oral hygiene. “Our team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in conjunction with our geriatric specialist nursing faculty, has developed a protocol that reduces care resistant behavior during oral hygiene delivery to dementia patients,” says Dr. Geisinger.


  • Chun-Teh Lee, DDS, MS, DMSc
    Improving Periodontal Health through a Precision Periodontal Health Care Chart

The aim of this project is to effectively educate patients, monitor their risk profile for periodontitis progression, and improve treatment outcomes using a Precision Periodontal Health Care Chart in the electronic health record system. According to Dr. Lee, “The Precision Periodontal Health Care Chart will provide patients information about the association between periodontitis and systemic diseases and a personal risk profile for periodontitis.” 



  • Hsun-Liang (Albert) Chan, DDS, MS
    In-Situ Evaluation of Periodontal Inflammation with Ultrasonography 

The aim of this project was to utilize ultrasound imaging to assess periodontal inflammation with the long-term goal of developing a point-of-care device to diagnose and monitor inflammation. “The ultrasound method may be able to detect disease at earlier stages so that treatment can be rendered in a timely manner. It intends to provide information about what is going to happen instead of what has already happened. Therefore, tooth longevity and quality of life can be improved,” Dr. Chan said.


  • Jeff CW Wang, DDS, DMSc
    Development of Patient-Friendly Oral Health Report with Customized Oral Hygiene Instructional Video for Enhanced Patient Education Modalities

With this project, Dr. Wang hoped to eventually improve patient education, motivation, and compliance with the use of technology-based visual aids and reports. “This research project is one step towards future personalized precision patient education, using a tailored oral and periodontal health report as a platform to educate patients about their own clinical, periodontal, and radiographic findings,” he said. “Without patient health literacy, patient motivation, and compliance, the goal of long-term oral health is negated.”



  • Yvonne Kapila, DDS, PhD
    Natural Bacteriocins as Pre/Pro-Biotics to Promote Oral Health and Prevent Periodontal Disease

Dr. Kapila’s project aim was to explore nisin’s effects on oral biofilm composition using both in vitro and in vivo model systems. According to Dr. Kapila, “Nisin has a long history of safety and broad range of biomedical applications, and it could add value in our understanding of periodontal health and periodontal disease prevention”.

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