Center for Oral Health Research (COHR)

The A.T. Still Research Institute’s Center for Oral Health Research (COHR) spans across both the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ASDOH) and the Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health (MOSDOH), with Center Co-Directors on each campus. Advancing the breadth and scope of oral health research is critical to both schools’ mission and goals.

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Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health

The purpose of the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ASDOH) is to educate caring, technologically adept dentists to become community and educational leaders, serving those in need, and to:

  • be a leader in the lifelong education of community responsive general dentists
  • prepare graduates with a strong foundation of critical inquiry, evidence-based practice, research, cultural competency, orientation to prevention, and interdisciplinary healthcare experiences
  • promote the delivery of optimal patient care and for the transfer of newly acquired knowledge, skills, and technology to the profession and the community

ASDOH’s dental programs feature innovative curriculum, simulation technology, state-of-the-art facilities, leadership training, needs- and service-focused education.

The COHR Co-Director at ASDOH is Ann Spolarich, RDH, PhD, FSCDH. Dr. Spolarich’s research interests focus on care of medically complex patient populations, specifically the care of older adults, clinical drug therapies, and dental product formulations. Dr. Spolarich is an internationally recognized author and speaker on pharmacology and the care of medically complex patients. She has presented over 900 lectures nationally and internationally and has over 125 professional publications.

Dr. Spolarich, along with other COHR members and students at ASDOH, actively engage in scholarly activity to identify regional and national healthcare needs and improve access to dental care for children, seniors, and underserved populations. The Center for Oral Health Research at ASDOH hosts numerous clinician researcher development program interns annually, who present work at national and international conferences, publish in prominent journals, and go on to include dental research as an integral part of their clinical practice for best patient care.

Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health

The purpose of the Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-MOSDOH) is to produce graduates with a strong foundation of critical inquiry, evidence-based practice, research, cultural proficiency, orientation to prevention, and interprofessional and interdisciplinary healthcare experiences.

There are many research opportunities available to MOSDOH students. MOSDOH’s Research Program emphasizes research in public health dentistry and the basic sciences. Qualified students are invited to participate in ongoing research with MOSDOH faculty. Alternatively, students may elect to conduct independent research by participating in MOSDOH’s Research Elective, which is a seminar that helps students develop research skills in all areas, from project development to dissemination. Students also have the opportunity to conduct research at other institutions over the summer, such as other dental schools or the National Institutes of Health.

The COHR Co-Director at MOSDOH is Joan Davis, PhD. Dr. Davis’s research interests include behavioral-based tobacco dependence/cessation education with a focus on faculty development, clinical use of computer assisted decision support systems (CDSS) to support health behavior change using electronic medical records, capturing the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of a research question using qualitative research methods, and international research and educational activities.

Dr. Davis, along with other COHR members and students at MOSDOH, actively engage in scholarly activity regarding dentistry as a part of whole person healthcare, advancement of dental technology, and increasing access to oral healthcare for Missouri’s most vulnerable populations. MOSDOH’s research teams partner with Affinia Healthcare, along with numerous other community health centers, enhancing access to evidence-based dental resources and large, diverse patient study pools.


The mission of the Center for Oral Health Research is to promote whole person health by translating outcomes gained from clinical, behavioral, and exploratory research into advances in dental education and practice.

ATSRI COHR scientists

  • Ann Spolarich, RDH, PhD, Center Co-Director
  • Joan Davis, MS, PhD, Center Co-Director
  • Scott Howell, DMD, MPH
  • Inder Makin, MD, PhD
  • Ammar Musawi, BDS, MDS
  • Jae Hyun Park, DMD, PhD, MSD, MS
  • Seena Patel, DMD, MPH
  • Maureen Perry, DDS, MPA
  • Priscilla Phillips, PhD
  • Marc Shlossman, DDS, MS
  • Vineet Singh, PhD
  • Brandon Crivello, DMD
  • Geof Franklin, MBA
  • Eric Kosel, DMD
  • Hamid Nurrohman, DDS, PhD
  • Adeptitan Owosho, BChD
  • Avanija Reddy, DMD, MPH
  • Richard J. Vargo, DMD
  • Marjorie Wright, MPH

General areas of research

  • Interventions that improve the oral health of specific population groups.
  • Best practices for treating patients with special needs.
  • Exploratory research used to improve diagnosis and treatment of oral conditions.
  • Delivery models to improve access to care to underserved populations.
  • Cost-benefit analysis of oral health interventions to improve systemic health.
  • Influence of health and oral health behaviors on overall health and wellness.
  • Impact of public health education on dental practitioner attitudes and behaviors towards treating the underserved.

Long-term goals

  • Promote oral health as an essential component of whole person health.
  • Develop skills in ATSU faculty and students that will lead to research independence.
  • Increase breadth and scope of research and scholarly activities of ATSU faculty.
  • Develop, implement, and disseminate innovative strategies to improve the oral health of the public, especially among the underserved.

Current projects

  • Collaborative practice using teledentistry.
  • Enhancing Osteopathic Medical Education by Incorporating Medical Ultrasound Training for DOs.
  • Recall of oral hygiene education among patients with special needs and their caregivers.
  • Special Care Dentistry online modules; Health Resources and Administration Services grant, titled “Faculty Development in General, Pediatric, and Public Health Dentistry and Dental Hygiene – Addressing the Oral Health Needs of the Underserved.”
  • Training dental hygiene students to care for individuals with special needs.

Now available! New special dentistry CE podcast series

The Colgate Oral Health Network is proud to partner with the distinguished faculty at the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health, A.T. Still University (ATSU), to provide you with this 8 part- CE podcast series: TIPS FOR IMPLEMENTING SPECIAL CARE DENTISTRY INTO DAILY PRACTICE. Hosted by Dr. Ann Eshenaur Spolarich an internationally recognized author and speaker on the care of medically complex patients, this series covers a variety of topics including, but not limited to:

  • A broad overview of individuals who present with special needs
  • Risk reduction strategies to improve safety
  • Tips for staff training and skills and communication

Listen to the each episode and complete the short CE quiz at the end of each to earn .25 CE credits per episode.

Start your education journey about this important patient population today