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Delivering Oral and Dental Health research



Delivering Oral and Dental Health research?

Why you should come to the UK

The Clinical Research Network provides researchers with the practical support they need to make research happen in our National Health Service (the NHS). CRN Oral and Dental Health is one of 30 specialities which bring together communities of clinicians and researchers to provide a network of research expertise across the UK. We deliver research which spans the whole range of oral and dental diseases including caries and periodontal diseases, oral cancer, rare genetic diseases, investigations of oral conditions and orthodontic needs including prevention and management.

The studies take place in a range of settings, including hospital in-patients, dental hospital outpatients, primary care, school and community environments and university research facilities.

We understand the requirements to deliver studies effectively and in a timely manner. The UK is uniquely placed to meet this need since our research leadership and workforce is organised to deliver and evaluate care under one common system. The UK has the optimum setting for high quality clinical trials and research programmes in oral health.


We are a UK-wide network of leading academic clinicians and researchers with experience in the efficient delivery of high quality studies across a range of dental disciplines. Our membership includes key opinion leaders who act as Principal and Chief Investigators at national and international levels. IADR (International Association for Dental Research) distinguished scientists have a higher proportional representation in the UK than in any other country worldwide.

We have a dedicated national Industry Lead for commercial studies who is available to provide strategic direction together with an operational link between industry, NIHR and researchers.

Access to patients

Dentistry in the UK represents a unique facet of the work of the NHS. There are around 8,000 dental practices, 40,000 dentists and 66,000 dental care professionals registered with the General Dental Council. The majority of the UK population uses NHS dental services, meaning we have access to approximately 20 million adult and 10 million paediatric patients.

NHS dental practices in the UK comply with the highest industry standards. In addition, dedicated and custom built dental clinical research facilities and further research laboratories in the UK Dental Schools ensure that we are equipped to manage the most complex and intensive clinical research projects.

Strong patient and public involvement is embedded in our infrastructure to ensure a patient-centric approach in everything we do.

Study delivery

CRN Oral and Dental Health supports and oversees a wide range of studies from single-centre early stage evaluations, including first in man studies, through to large multi-centre observational studies, randomised controlled trials (RCT) of medicinal products and devices as well as health services research. Our track record:

• 6,517 patients recruited into research studies in 2017/18 an increase of 19 per cent compared to 2016/17.

• Over 280 sites recruited into Oral and Dental Health research studies in 2017/18 the majority of which were from primary care.

• All studies completing in 2017/18 closed to time and target.

• The UK had the top recruiting site (by some measure) for an international commercial study examining the analgesic efficacy of an oral agent.


We work closely with key stakeholders including the NHS and Public Health bodies of the UK’s four nations to ensure that research findings are rapidly adopted into dental practice. We work with the wider dental industry to facilitate both highly focussed product evaluation research and wider scale population research.

Oral health is an important component of general health and has strong links with systemic disease. We work closely with other Clinical Research Network specialties to successfully deliver studies across a wide range of conditions including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and inflammatory diseases.

The FICTION (Filling Children’s Teeth: Indicated or Not?) Study compared three commonly used approaches to managing decay in deciduous teeth.

The Clinical Research Network supported the recruitment of 1,124 children from 70 primary care dental practices across the UK over a three year period. The “Seal or Varnish” RCT investigated the relative clinical and cost effectiveness of fissure sealants and fluoride varnish in the prevention of dental caries in first permanent molars. 1,016 children (6-7 year olds) participated in this study which was conducted with Clinical Research Network support using mobile dental clinics in schools.

LEONIDAS-1 was a feasibility trial of a novel salivary electrostimulating device in the treatment of xerostomia of Sjogren’s syndrome.

With Clinical Research Network support, the trial successfully demonstrated the feasibility of the intervention including willingness to be randomised and compliance with the device. This study led to a major charity-funded RCT of salivary electrostimulation which will recruit 140 Sjogren’s syndrome patients over five years across seven UK sites.

The PREFER study investigated the value and cost of different forms of information on oral health status and risk given to patients following check-up appointments in dental practices.

400 patients were recruited from 4 NHS practices supported by the Clinical Research Network. The findings of the study are helping to support innovations in the way health information is provided to patients. 

Find out more

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Contact us

Access our Study Support Service online at: or get in touch:

Phone: 00 44 113 34 34 555