Research

Researcher in the lab

Welcome to the Faculty of Dentistry - Research

Being based in a Faculty of Dentistry does not mean we only work with teeth. Our research covers many aspects of human health.

Located in the heart of the Discovery District of Toronto, the world’s largest innovation hub, our researchers strive to move discoveries quickly from bench to chairside, starting new biomedical companies and licensing their technologies.

Our Faculty is closely engaged with multiple cross-sector partners. These partnerships have led to new discoveries and translation across a number of areas, including:

  • tissue engineering scaffolds
  • pathological wound healing
  • oral microbiome and inflammation
  • oral health of indigenous communities, and¬†
  • dental anomalies, including molar hypomineralization.

Our research themes

We are renowned for our innovation and cross-disciplinary programs within the global academic and research communities.

Our research programs fall under seven broad themes, reflecting the breadth and depth of the Faculty’s research enterprise. 
 

Biomaterials and biomedical engineering

One of our major strengths. With the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering and the Faculty of Medicine, we helped found the world-renowned Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBME). 

We are developing novel biomaterials for applications in and outside of the oral cavity, as well as improving the longevity of existing materials. 

From tissues-on-a-chip, nano-based disease testing, sleep apnea devices and the development of novel polymers used in medical equipment, we are making major contributions to health research.

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Connective tissue and regenerative medicine

We aim to impact disease diagnosis, treatment and the development of novel drug targets and other therapies by developing a better understanding of the basic cellular and molecular mechanisms that control the dynamic equilibrium of mineralized and connective tissues in health and disease.

This theme includes a broad range of various topics, including but not limited to:

  • Biomineralization
  • mechanobiology, and¬†
  • immunology.¬†

Our multidisciplinary researchers build collaborations and cross appointments with many other faculties and departments at the University to develop clinically-relevant discoveries.

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Dental public health

Can we end childhood caries? Can we develop better oral health delivery systems for high-risk populations, such as remote northern Aboriginal communities? 

Research in this theme is focused on the correlations between socio-economic factors and clinical outcomes in dentistry, with the aim of linking academic and community research, service providers, consumers and policy makers. 

We hope to develop a better understanding of the complex challenges of, and to maximize the benefit in, delivering dental care.

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Education research

We want to develop better tools to train the dental professionals of tomorrow.

Our goal is to establish U of T Dentistry as an international leader in this emerging field of research, and to expand a program of research in dental education that will have an ongoing positive impact on the Faculty’s pedagogical curriculum. 

This comprises a range of topics crossing health disciplines:

  • program evaluations
  • student evaluations
  • basic science education¬†
  • theory and practice of health education.

Our researchers are actively involved with the Wilson Centre for Research in Education, which is affiliated with the faculty of medicine at the University of Toronto.

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Microbiology

From determining how Lyme disease bacteria invade cells and cause bone loss, to the cataloguing of genetic markers of bacteria in states of health and disease readily available in the oral cavity, this cross-disciplinary research theme covers a broad spectrum of health-related inquiry at the micro level.


Through the development of new imaging techniques, DNA analysis and cell-signaling studies, our researchers are leaders in this emerging field of medical inquiry with its complex ties to overall health.

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Oral pathology and cancer

We want to better understand the mechanisms that cause oral cancer metastasis and cancers of the head and neck and allow much earlier diagnosis.

We are seeking new and better diagnostics and personalized medicine treatments for cancer and other diseases of the oral cavity, head and neck. 

The Toronto Oral Pathology laboratory, the largest pathology lab service in Canada for dentists and based in the Faculty of Dentistry, is a resource for undergraduate and graduate research.

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Pain and neuroscience

How do we feel pain? And can pain be ‚Äúturned off‚ÄĚ?¬†

Our researchers address questions of pain perception, processing and modulation on several levels.

They apply electrophysiological, imaging, molecular, genetic, sensory and behavioral techniques, among others, in vitro and in vivo, to understand mechanisms of sensory and motor activity, and its control and plasticity.

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Research facts and figures

  • Our researchers received $4M¬†(CAD) in grant funding 2021-22.¬†
  • We were the top dental school in Canada for research publication citations in 2021-22¬†(483) and number of journal papers published (289).
  • 25 grant-funded basic and clinical researchers.
  • 19 post-docs working in multi-disciplinary research.
  • 117 clinical and nonclinical graduate students.

Interested in collaborating? 

Our researchers regularly work with hospital networks, regulatory bodies, commercial companies and academics across the world to investigate foundational research, develop treatments and improve diagnostics. 

For collaborations and business partnership inquiries contact Farah Thong (Manager, Research and Business Development) at farah.thong@dentistry.utoronto.ca.

Accessing our research facility 

Learn more about accessing our research facility:

  • 25,000 sq ft modern, open concept labs
  • 18,000 sq ft office and collaborative space
  • The Collaborative Advanced Microscopy Laboratories of Dentistry, CAMiloD, is our state-of-the-art facility, that encompasses microscopy, histology and mechanical testing suites.¬†

Contact us

General inquiries

Leah Raz (Administrative Officer)
leah.raz@dentistry.utoronto.ca