Utskrift från Malmö universitets webbplats www.mah.se

Faculty of Odontology promotes Jubilee Doctor

2017-10-11

When Malmö opened its first college in 1998, a reform was launched in the 1980s. The industrial city would become a city of knowledge. When the shipbuilding industry came to an end, employment frequency dropped to one of the lowest in the country, and an effort to make Malmö the site of an institution of advanced education gradually began. 

However, academia has been present in Malmö far earlier than the birth of Malmö University in 1998.

Two faculties already located in the city were embraced in the university's operation and have since then been influential to the character of both the university and the city.

The Faculty of Odontology's new jubilee doctor is a strong example of that.

Göran Koch presented his dissertation in 1967 at the School of Odontology in Malmö. His imprints on the local market and later also on a national level gave resonance to research we still conduct today. He is the dentist who once had great interest in caries prevention. In the 1960s after studies of 1800 children in Malmö elementary schools, Göran Koch's theory was confirmed that caries development could be controlled using fluoride toothpaste. The result of the study was gathered in his dissertation.

On October 20, 2017, Malmö University meets its former student who currently is Professor Emeritus with two honorary doctorates (Jönköping, Sweden and Athens, Greece), nine international honorary nominations and a long range of assignments as chairman of academic associations including Paediatric Dentistry. Göran Koch is currently living in Jönköping, Sweden.

How did you start your career in Odontology?
“After graduating in the spring of 1960 I was enlisted as marine dentist for 5 months. This was a good experience since it gave time to try clinical work and evaluate how to proceed. Soon crystallized I sought a combination of teaching, research and being active clinically, if possible.”

How did you end up in Malmö and what department did you work for?
“A natural move was to return to the Dental School in Malmö, where during the last semesters I had a laboratory job and there I also received an offer to get a job at the Department of Pedodontics. I was also given the opportunity to start working as a private dentist.”

When you first started, do you attack research from a particular perspective and how has this affected your scientific path over the years?
“During the education and the first years as dentist, I was struck by the serious degree of caries cases that most children and adolescents showed. To seek to reduce the high rate, I felt strongly as the most important tasks of our profession. This insight and endeavor has since been a theme in my research.”

Is there anything that constitutes a strong insight or breakthrough for you in your research?
"During the 50's and 60's, great interest was focused on brushing teeth with sodium fluoride solution in caries prevention. The procedure was time consuming and results were limited. In America, toothpaste containing sodium fluoride had been tested, but as the results were disappointing, other fluoro compounds were utilized. Fluoride toothpastes couldn’t be found in Sweden at that time. A company in Sweden had tried to develop a toothpaste containing sodium fluoride based on a whole new technology. I was promised to try this clinically during a 3-year period. With strong support from City of Malmö from my mentors, I planned and began the survey. It comprised 1800 children in Malmö schools and was divided into 6 different studies. The tests were double blind, which meant that neither the examiner nor the children themselves knew if they were in the trial or control group. It meant many intense years. I performed annual clinical and x-ray examinations of approximately 600 children during the three-year clinical trial period. It was stressful not knowing whether the results would be positive or negative. Therefore, it was an exciting day after preparation and three years of clinical trial when the code was revealed. It turned out that children who on a daily basis, under surveillance brushed teeth with toothpaste containing sodium fluoride, only had half as much new caries as children brushed with the same toothpaste but without fluoride. This further reinforced my insight that there were great opportunities to manipulate caries development. These studies were collected in a monograph that became my dissertation.”

The world of Odontology has developed a lot during the years you have been working. How has it affected you and your research?
“As an editor of scientific journals for more than 45 years, I have had wonderful opportunities to follow dental developments over the years. This has also led me to promote research projects with great relevance, for example concerning fluoride retention and survival of etched-in restorations, etc. A large part of my research is epidemiological studies as they provide an opportunity to assess dental health developments and also show what changes must be made in dental care in order to properly use resources. An example of such surveys is the so-called Jönköping Research, where we were able to follow the dramatic improvement of dental health for 40 years in age groups from 3 to 80 years with repeated cross-sectional surveys.”

What has your research done for you personally?
“The research has given me a fantastic professional network, both nationally and internationally. It has made my odontological existence unpredictable and challenging but always exciting and enriching.”

Where do you find inspiration?
“My inspiration comes mainly from my family and my closest employees. But I get my job satisfaction and new ideas through my extensive clinical commitment. The patient's needs have controlled most of my research.”

Text: Johan Portland