Professor Murray Thomson
BSc, BDS, MA, MComDent, PhD
Dental Epidemiology and Public Health
Department of Oral Sciences
Dental epidemiology is the science behind dental public health, and is the study of the occurrence of oral health and disease in human populations. It is a cross-disciplinary science, drawing upon such diverse disciplines as dentistry, sociology, biostatistics, psychology and public health. Dr Thomson has a number of interests in this broad field. He is currently a Principal Investigator on two longitudinal studies.
The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (DMHDS) is a study of young people who were born in Dunedin during 1972/73 and who have been followed ever since. The dental part of this study is investigating dental anxiety, tooth loss, gum disease and tooth decay, and the use of dental services. The South Australia Dental Longitudinal Study (SADLS) is a study of oral disease over time among older South Australians, with particular emphasis on medications, dry mouth and tooth decay.
Dr Thomson has also conducted a clinical trial of the anti-caries efficacy of topical casein derivatives complexed with calcium phospate use among xerostomic post-radiation-therapy individuals. These individuals have a very high decay rate because of the catastrophic drop in their saliva production due to the radiation’s effect on the salivary glands.
A fourth project uses child dental caries rates as indicators of social and economic policy effects on health to examine the health effects of the early-1990s economic and social policy changes.
Together with Associate Professor John Broughton (Ngai Tahu Maori Health Research Unit), Dr Thomson is involved in an international collaborative study which is developing an instrument to measure oral-health-related quality of life in a number of different cultures.
In addition, Dr Thomson is collaborating with the University of Adelaide's Dental Statistics and Research Unit on an oral and maxillofacial surgery workforce study.
There are also a number of smaller projects with postgraduate students, as well as his involvement in the Implant Research Group at the School of Dentistry.
This research aims to improve our understanding of: (1) the way in which people use dental services and how dentistry can better meet their needs; (2) the causes of oral diseases and how we can intervene at both the personal and population levels to improve people’s oral health; and (3) the health effects of economic and social policy changes.
2001. Dental Research Foundation of New Zealand. Prevalence and severity of enamel defects - a comparison of 9-year-old children in fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities. With Mr TD Mackay.
2000. Australia and New Zealand Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. 2000 Workforce Study (with Dr DS Brennan and Professor AJ Spencer).
2000. Public Health Service, US Department of Health and Human Services. Measuring child oral health-related quality of life (with Associate Professor HL Broder, Professor D Locker, Professor S Reisine, Dr P Allison, Dr R Warren, Dr D Gibbons, Dr B Prahl-Andersen, Dr M Hennequin and Professor RV Katz).
1999. University of Otago Research Grant. The genetics of periodontal disease. With Professor AW Braithwaite, Dr RG Poulton, Dr S Edwards and Dr GW Tompkins.
1999. Dental Research Foundation of New Zealand. Support costs for a clinical trial of the anti-caries efficacy of topical casein phosphopeptide (CPP) use among xerostomic post-radiation-therapy individuals. With Mr KD Hay.
1998. Health Research Council of New Zealand. Developing a dental consumerism scale. Public Health Seeding Grant.
1998. Dental Research Foundation of New Zealand. Data entry costs for Dental Phase XXVI of the DMHDS. With Dr GS Dixon and Ms E Kruger.
1998. Health Research Council of New Zealand. Child dental caries rates as indicators of social and economic policy effects on health. With Mrs Sheila M. Williams, Dr David Peacock and Mr Peter J. Dennison.
Hashim R, Thomson WM, Pack ARC. Smoking in adolescence as a predictor of early loss of periodontal attachment. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology 29: 130-135 (2001).
Thomson WM, Hashim R, Pack ARC. The prevalence and intra-oral distribution of periodontal loss of attachment in a birth cohort of 26-year- olds. Journal of Periodontology 71: 1840-1845 (2000).
Thomson WM, Poulton R, Kruger E, Boyd DM. Socio-economic and behavioural risk factors for tooth loss from age 18 to 26 among participants in the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study. Caries Research 34: 361-366 (2000).
Thomson WM, Locker D. Dental neglect and dental health among 26-year-olds in the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology 28: 414-418 (2000).
Thomson WM. What oral health data do we need for planning, and how do we collect it? Part I: The epidemiologist's perspective. New Zealand Dental Journal 96: 116-119 (2000).
Allen T, Thomson WM, Emmerton LM, Poulton R. Nutritional supplement use among 26-year-olds. New Zealand Medical Journal 113: 274-277 (2000).
Thomson WM, Locker D, Poulton R. Incidence of dental anxiety in young adults in relation to dental treatment experience. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology 28: 289-294 (2000).
Thomson WM, Williams SM. Further testing of the Xerostomia Inventory. Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology, and Endodontics. 89: 46-50 (2000).
Thomson WM, Chalmers JM, Spencer AJ, Slade GD. Medication and dry mouth: five-year findings from a cohort study of older people. Journal of Public Health Dentistry 60: 12-20 (2000).
Thomson WM, Chalmers JM, Spencer AJ, Ketabi M. The occurrence of xerostomia and salivary gland hypofunction in a population-based sample of older South Australians. Special Care in Dentistry 19: 20-23 (1999).
Thomson WM, Chalmers JM, Spencer AJ, Williams SM. The Xerostomia Inventory: a multi-item approach to measuring dry mouth. Community Dental Health, 16: 12-17 (1999).
Thomson WM. A medication capture and analysis system for use in epidemiology. Drugs and Aging 10: 290-298 (1997).
Thomson WM, Poulton RG, Kruger E, Davies S, Brown RH and Silva PA. Changes in self-reported dental anxiety in New Zealand adolescents from age 15 to 18. Journal of Dental Research 76: 1287-1291 (1997).
Thomson WM. Predicted distribution of treatment needs for caries across three indicator age groups by the year 2031. New Zealand Dental Journal 93: 39-43 (1997).
Thomson WM (ed), Cautley AJ, Drummond BK, Ferguson MM, Holborow DW, Kruger E. Preventive Dental Strategies for Older Populations. A report to the National Health Committee. Wellington: National Advisory Committee on Health & Disability (1997). ISBN: 0-478-10463-4
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