For many years, oral health care was considered separate from routine medical care. Recent research, however, has shown the value of integrating medical and oral care to improve patient health.
The Center for Health Research is uniquely positioned for studies that take place at the intersection of the medical and dental care environments.
The Dental Care Program at Kaiser Permanente Northwest began as a federally funded research demonstration project in the early 1970s. Of Kaiser Permanente’s seven regions, the Northwest Region is the only one that offers dental as well as medical care. The ties between CHR and the Dental Care Program remain close, and have led to many productive collaborations. We also conduct studies in parternships with other dental plans across the country. Our research on oral health has included studies on xylitol lozenges, water fluoridation, oral infections, and temporomandibular joint disorder.
National Dental Practice-Based Research Network
CHR is deeply involved in the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN), which facilitates dental office research. The National Dental PBRN is a collaborative of practices and organizations across the United States that engages practitioners in research for the benefit of everyday clinical practice and patients.
The network’s Western Region comprises 600 dental practitioners, more than 100 of them affiliated with Permanente Dental Associates, with staffing provided through the Center for Health Research. The Western Region’s director is CHR Senior Investigator Jeff Fellows, and the deputy director is Dan Pihlstrom, DDS, of Permanente Dental Associates.