The sounds of multiple languages drift through a dental facility filled with Eastern European, African and South American immigrants.
It’s easy to imagine this scene at NYUCD, with its large, multiethnic patient population. But this particular dental clinic is in Israel, where approximately one quarter of the population is foreign born, making it too, a melting pot of religions and cultures.
"Israel’s diversity makes it a natural partner for research on caries risk factors related to culture, ethnicity, and country of origin, " says Dr. Benjamin Godder, a Clinical Associate Professor of Cariology and Comprehensive Care, who grew up in Israel, graduated from the Hebrew University Hadassah School of Dental Medicine in Jerusalem, trained further at NYUCD and joined the faculty in 1987.
NYUCD and Hadassah have both recently begun programs that assess their clinic patients ’ risk of caries according to a number of variables. NYUCD, for example, gathers information about the level of refined carbohydrates in a patient ’ s diet. Dr. Godder and Dr. Jonathan Mann, Professor and Chairman of Hadassah ’ s Department of Community Dentistry, are preparing a protocol for a study that will analyze patient data for clues on whether caries risk varies significantly according to ethnicity or country of origin.
Dr. Godder’s interest in ethnicity and oral health dates back to a student research project he conducted at Hadassah that compared tooth and arch dimensions in Israeli Jewish and nonJewish children and determined that the mesiodistal lengths of some permanent teeth differed substantially between the groups.
"Of course, determining if a person ’ s risk of developing caries is influenced by their country of origin is a far more complex task than comparing tooth and arch dimensions among ethnic groups," Dr. Godder remarked.
"But through our collaborative research and information exchange, I believe that NYUCD and Hadassah can meet the challenge."