Correlations between systemic problems, age, and gender to the severity of periodontal disease

2nd place (medical sciences) @ NYSSEF '13

Daniel Hosseinian

Oct 2012 - Apr 2013 @ Commack High School

Probing pocket depths and bleeding on probing data were used to determine correlations between the severity of periodontal disease to age, gender, and systemic problems. Due to the many variables affected by periodontal disease, a patient scoring system was developed in order to be able to compare patients with a single unifying variable.

My great friend Daniel Hosseinian and I set out to discover what may affect the severity of periodontal disease to provide evidence dental practices can be a place to screen for diseases. Sadly, we did not come upon ground-shaking correlations, but this is still a special project to me.

I asked a local dentist, Bonnie Helfner, I was interning for if she could guide Dan and me on a dentistry research project. After many talks, we decided to work on a project involving data analysis of periodontal charts. I had to comb through Dr. Helfner’s three fully packed shelves of patient records to find, anonymize, and photocopy statistically interesting patients’ periodontal charts. In the end, I looked at around 250 patient records and was only able to use 56 patients’ records.

Dan and I then had to manually digitize this data onto Microsoft Excel. Inputting (and verifying inputs) data for each of the 56 patients took around 30 minutes each (once we got good at it!). The image below is a section of our database.

Periodontal database

Even though this process was terribly boring, calculating significant p-values allowed Dan and I to finally saw the statistical fruits of our labor! Some part of those seemingly disconnected number we were inputting into Excel was actually connected in a beautiful way according to our analyses.

Going through the repetitive process of finding and inputting data made us appreciate the beauty in data and how we can find that beauty through statistics. Again, the methodology and results of this project were not something to behold, but the spark for interest in data analysis that was ignited was wonderful. Additionally, I got a life-long friend through this project–I suppose shared pain is an amazing foundation for a relationship. I was also able to help establish the dental internship program at my high school, which is enabling students to have the opportunity to the resources I had while conducting this investigation!