Dr Mihiri Silva Awarded MRFF Grant

Melbourne Dental School senior lecturer Dr Mihiri Silva was recently awarded with a Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant for a project that aims to prevent tooth decay.

The $1.2 million grant was announced under the Maternal Health and the First 2000 Days; Exercise and Nutrition; Early Childhood MRFF scheme.

The project, Infant2Child, led by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, seeks to deliver urgent intervention changes to childhood oral health through a new strategy for improving childhood nutrition.

Tooth decay is a common oral health disease globally and affects more than a third of Australian children before they start school. Poor diet, as well as sugar and bacteria in the mouth, remain leading contributors to this.

Dr Silva notes that tooth decay is virtually entirely preventable, and that early childhood is a critical window for this prevention to take place.

“Dietary and dental habits are established early in life, particularly during the first 2000 days – a unique, time-limited opportunity for early intervention.

Dr Mihiri Silva

Infant2Child will build on and extend the established early life dietary intervention, INFANT, by incorporating oral health promotion and then evaluating the impact of this modified program on preschool oral health outcomes.

“By repurposing an already successful intervention this study will deliver an urgently needed preventive strategy to improve oral health of all pre-schoolers, and also help us develop additional ways to target children with the greatest likelihood of developing tooth decay.”

The study has the potential to make a real difference to the oral health of children in Victoria and Australia more broadly. Participating institutions include the University of Melbourne, Deakin University, Dental Health Services Victoria, LaTrobe University and the University of Sydney.