Ross School - Senior Projects 2010

Student: Grace Curatola   

Mentor: Patty Lein

Product                            

Title: Revolutionary Changes in Oral Hygiene

Description:

For my senior project I conducted a consumer research study that tested a new approach to oral care.  The product tested, Revitin, enhances the power of beneficial biofilms, a natural bacterial community found in our mouths, as a way of restoring homeostasis.  Subjects were asked to complete a baseline survey on their current oral health, and then utilized this product for a two-week period.  Process and follow-up surveys were administered throughout the study.  The results of this study, as well as the background research that I conducted on this revolutionary breakthrough in oral care are shared through my website.  My website offers background information about the nature of biofilms, a historical review of dental care, information about the development of this new product and a description of my case study, including video testimonials. Through my project, I have taken many different paths, leading me to the creation of my website, which captures them all.

Details: 

Website (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20)

PowerPoint Presentation

Abstract

            For my senior project I did a research study on biofilms, followed by field research using an all-natural product, Revitin that is designed to foster a healthy living environment in the mouth.  The results of my reference and field research were captured in a website, complete with test subjects’ interviews, history of biofilm as well as presenting current research about why we need to change our dental practices to embrace a homeostatic view of health care. 

            When the biofilm in your mouth is healthy it is a thin film that coats your teeth, gums and tongue. The bacteria living within a healthy community work together to protect your gums and teeth. An unhealthy biofilm is often expressed as a thick white film and the microbes in this biofilm are harmful to your oral health. When the biofilm on your tongue (and the rest of your mouth) is imbalanced, you will have bad breath. An unhealthy biofilm can carry a bad odor.  The goal of this project was to help a general audience appreciate the significance of this living micro-community by developing an awareness and education campaign through the construction of an engaging, yet scientifically accurate website.  The website that I built allowed me to blend my passions for both art and science to achieve this goal. 

            My project was evolutionary in nature, in that at each step of the way I was forced to make decisions that guided the expression of my final product.  I first began researching biofilms, and from this determined that I needed to present this data in a way that was more accessible to a wider audience, forcing me to consult several reference sources to unpack scientific terminology.  I also spent a great deal of time interviewing experts in the field to help me make sense of the concepts I was researching.  I was particularly struck by the concept of looking at oral care as gardening – trying to promote healthy growth by using beneficial gardening techniques, not pesticides.  This revelation led to my field study.  Originally I had planned to intern in a research lab, Bluestone Laboratories in New York City, but ran into clearance issues.  Thus, I was forced to regroup and devised a consumer product study that piloted the use of an all-natural toothpaste.  My website also chronicled the history of oral hygiene products, discussing their conception as well as contrasting their role in perpetuating today’s dental myths to what the newest research in oral care is demonstrating.  Biofilm science is leading researchers to look at health issues from a new perspective, one that embraces the benefits of bacteria.

            Throughout this project I have come to look at bacteria in a new light. I slowly came to grips with the idea that bacteria is no longer an enemy, and from the evolution of my understanding I can now appreciate how long it is going to take for this revelation to move into the public forum. In order for this new attitude towards oral health care to begin to ripple outwards, awareness and education campaigns are necessary.  It is my hope that my website begins that process.  Through this project, I have also developed a better understanding about how to conduct a research study and I feel prepared to research and implement more studies in the future. I am looking forward to learning more about the world of biofilm as I begin my long awaited internship at Bluestone Laboratories this Spring.

Works Consulted

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Community Member (Details)

Dr. Patricia Corby

patricia.corby@nyu.edu

Dr. David Shuch

dshuch@embarqmail.com

Dr. Stephen Moss

healthee@ix.netcom.com