Focus Areas

The identification of focus areas in research is part of the research strategy of the University of Pretoria.

Several focus areas have been identified in order to eliminate duplication and to contribute to more structured research. An important feature of these focus areas is the multidisciplinary nature thereof, which leads to optimisation of expertise and facilities.

The current focus areas comprise:

Fluoride in Dentistry

This involves the metabolism of fluoride and the incorporation of fluoride in the hard tissues, fluoride content of food, water, toothpaste and dental materials, as well as the prevalence and severity of fluorosis and the treatment of fluorosed stained teeth.

The programme manager is Prof PJ van Wyk  tel 012 319 2418 or send e-mail

Biomaterials in Dentistry

A combined programme of several well-established programmes in the Faculty. This programme includes projects with international cooperation and interdepartmental and multidisciplinary participation. These involve the evaluation of current dental materials and their host interaction, as well as the improvement of the characteristics of biomaterials in dentistry, and includes the improvement of the Atraumatic Restorative Technique.

The programme manager is Prof FA de Wet  tel 012 319 2231 or send e-mail

Epidemiology of Oral Diseases in South Africa

The coordinator of this national survey is on the staff establishment of the Dental Faculty. This involves the cooperation with all the provinces and other universities in the country. This expertise can be used by other epidemiological surveys planned by any programme, department or school.

The programme manager is Prof PJ van Wyk   tel 012 319 2418 or send e-mail

Forensic Sciences

Several projects in cooperation with the SAPS, the Department of Forensic Medicine and other dental departments are underway. These include the improvement of techniques used for identification, evaluation of bite marks and determining the prevalence of specific dental features in the population.

The programme manager is Prof H Bernitz: 012 319 2320 or send e-mail

Oral Implantology

The physical, chemical characteristics of implant surfaces are studied and cell cultures and in vitro models are used to study osseointegration, tooth eruption, root resorption and the different cellular-physiological mechanisms of tooth movement. Several departments are currently busy with implant-related research.

The programme manager is Prof K-W Butow: 012 319 2232 or send e-mail

Oral Microbiology

Common and pathogenic microorganisms of the oral cavity are studied to determine their involvement in diseases of the oral cavity. The role between the oral flora and systemic disease is also evaluated.

The programme manager is Prof SJ Botha: 012 319 2318 or send e-mail

Oral Cancer

A research programme on oral cancer with participation and cooperation with leading national and international institutions is well established. This involves the epidemiology, aetiology with particular emphasis on the human papillomavirus, the role of tumour suppressor genes and biological grading in determining tumour behaviour. This programme has led to PhD and MSc qualifications, as well as numerous publications in international scientific journals.

The programme manager is Prof WFP van Heerden: 012 319 2320 or send e-mail


Active participation within the HIV/AIDS clinic at the Pretoria Academic Hospital. This is a multidisciplinary clinic with staff from various schools of the Health Sciences Faculty. Activities within the Clinic led to the identification of several research projects of importance in dealing with HIV/AIDS.

The programme manager is Prof WFP van Heerden: 012 319 2320 or send e-mail

- Author Melanie Botha

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