Five quick questions with King’s College Clinical Lecturer in Prosthodontics Dr Saoirse O’Toole.

toothwear_2teeth

Tracking toothwear in a patient. Blue represents tooth structure loss over a six month period. Image from Saoirse O’Toole.

In this new Five Quick Questions series, we profile KCL researchers. If you are a KCL researcher and would like to have your research featured, contact us at currently@kcl.ac.uk.

Five quick questions with King’s College Clinical Lecturer in Prosthodontics Dr Saoirse O’Toole.

Saoirse is a Clinical Lecturer in Prosthodontics in the Department of Tissue Engineering and Biophotonics. For more information about Saoirse’s research, or the Department of Tissue Engineering and Biophotonics, visit their websites:

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/dentistry/research/divisions/bio3/index.aspx

https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/saoirse.otoole.html

If you could tell the public one thing about your research, what would it be?

That dentists can tell a lot from looking inside your mouth! The presence of erosive tooth wear can indicate anything from drinking too many acidic drinks to silent gastro-oesophageal reflux disease to whether you had a tongue piercing when you were a teenager.

What is a typical day like for you?

I don’t think there is a typical day in the life of a clinical researcher which is something I love about my job. I come in sometime after 8:00am. If it is a research day, I try to divide my time equally between being in the lab and then analysing/writing. If I am treating patients that day, I try to get a first task done that morning such as setting up a scan or meeting a student before I start on clinics at 9:00am. If I am teaching, I generally give a tutorial from 9-10am and then teach until 5:00pm with a lunchbreak in between (although often there are often lunchtime meetings to attend). After that I start catching up on e-mails and research work that I need to do.

What first interested you in this field?

I first got interested in erosive tooth wear as a clinician. Severe tooth wear is very challenging to treat and yet oral health care practitioners have very limited methods to assess its activity or prevent it. I saw David Bartlett speak at a conference in Istanbul, I approached him and somehow badgered him in to taking me on as a PhD student. My PhD research involved finding out what level of dietary acid intake would cause erosive tooth wear and then assessed behavioural change interventions to reduce the level of risk. I have never looked back. Research in erosive tooth wear still fascinates me as I think it has potential to act as signal diagnostic for many diseases. There is still a lot to develop in this field and I am particularly interested in developing practice-based diagnostic and monitoring tools. We also have a great research team which keeps everything interesting.

What is one of the best moments in your career?

I don’t think I can identify a best moment in my career. Any successful moments were never the result of just my actions alone as so many people have helped me to build it, bit by bit. From our research team to the nurses, lab technicians and professional services staff. There is still so much I want to achieve so I’m hoping the best is still to come.

What is one of the worst moments in your career so far?

I also don’t think I can identify a worst moment in my career either. I am hoping that a single “worst moment” never comes. It’s never nice when you receive notice that you didn’t the grant funding for a project that you poured your heart into or got rejected from a journal you had your mind set on. From a clinical point of view, it’s difficult when you don’t get the clinical outcome you and your patient were working for the first-time round. I try to only allow myself one cup of coffee to soak it in and then start thinking about how I can do it better the next time.

 

 

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