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Congressman Vicente Gonzalez

Representing the 15th District of Texas

Congressman Gonzalez Announces More than $200,000 in HHS Funding to UTRGV

August 9, 2017
Press Release

EDINBURG, TX— Today, Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) announced that the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) has received $217,950 in federal funding to plan and prepare for a clinical trial on the effectiveness of exposure therapy as a viable treatment option for dental phobia in children. The grant comes from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

This funding will allow UTRGV researchers to create the procedures and training manuals necessary to conduct the clinical trial. Once these materials have been prepared, researchers may apply for a Collaborative Research Opportunity grant, which, if awarded, would allow practicing dentists in South Texas to run the clinical trial which would test the success of one session exposure treatment for dental phobia in children. The trial would compare this to the average existing treatment that dental hygienists already administer.

“Unfortunately, from the time we are children, many of us develop great anxiety or fear about visiting the dentist that stays with us for years,” Congressman Vicente Gonzalez said. “This can have a detrimental impact on our dental health and hygiene. Luckily, researchers at UTRGV are working to address this problem and with this grant, they will be able to conduct potentially groundbreaking research that could ultimately help children overcome this fear and lead healthier lives.”

Dental phobia is associated with avoidance of proper dental care and poor oral health. This usually manifests during childhood or early adolescence and Hispanic children are at a greater risk for dental phobia and resulting health problems. Given the Rio Grande Valley’s high concentration of Hispanic youth, UTRGV is well-placed to conduct this important research.

 UTRGV’s President, Guy Bailey, shared his enthusiasm about the award.

“This project is another example of how research conducted at UTRGV will have a positive impact on our communities,” UTRGV President Guy Bailey said. “I would like to thank Congressman Gonzalez for his support, and thank everyone who was involved in helping UTRGV obtain this grant.”

One session exposure therapy has proven effective in treating other phobias, but researchers have yet to study its effect on dental phobia. UTRGV would be the first to do so. If successful, this trial could offer dental hygienists a cost-effective treatment method for children who are frightened of dental procedures. 

 

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