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A clinician and educator at the UNC Adams School of Dentistry, Dr. Kimon Divaris studies oral health in North Carolina’s children.

He is a professor and research director in the Division of Pediatric and Public Health.

In 2015, he was the recipient of an $8.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct a large-scale, molecular epidemiologic study of childhood cavities among preschool-age children in North Carolina.

Divaris and his team traveled more than 180,000 miles across the state recruiting 8,000 children ages 3 to 5 for the study. The team performed dental exams for more than 6,500 of them.

“Dental decay is quite prevalent in North Carolina,” he said. “It has been decreasing over time, which is great, but it remains high. About 40% of children have experienced tooth decay before they reach kindergarten, and about a third of those have untreated dental disease.”

From his research, Divaris learned the importance of working with parents, teachers and young children to provide positive dental experiences and oral health education for preschool-age children.

“Knowledge, although important, is not enough,” he said. “Daily life factors are extremely influential in what parents and families can do for their children’s oral health.”

Divaris is a board-certified pediatric dentist with doctoral and postdoctoral training in oral and genetic epidemiology. He holds an adjunct faculty appointment in the Department of Epidemiology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Divaris earned his dental degree in 2005 from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens School of Dentistry, Athens, Greece. In 2011, he completed his pediatric dentistry residency training, a doctorate in epidemiology and a graduate certificate in global health, all at Carolina.

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