Margherita Fontana

Associate Professor, School of Dentistry, University of Michigan

Dr. Fontana is a leader in the field of cariology education and research. She recently received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for her work on caries risk assessment in children and shared a few moments with the President talking about children’s oral health. Dr. Fontana was asked to consider the best use of cariology science in the management of disease and in addressing oral health inequities.

Learning Objectives

Recognize how caries management is changing from surgical to medical approaches and how disease management can be leveraged to reduce oral health disparities.

See how this fits into the full curriculum >>

Watch Margherita Fontana's training presentation >>


Margherita Fontana, DDS, PhD, holds the position of Associate Professor (tenured) in the Department of Cariology, Restorative Sciences and Endodontics at University of Michigan School of Dentistry. After receiving her dental degree from the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV), Caracas Venezuela, in 1990, Dr. Fontana worked as a Research Assistant in the Dental Research Institute, Dental School, UCV for two years, while she also worked in private practice. In 1992 she moved to the United States to pursue her research interests, and in 1996 completed a four-year PhD program in Dental Sciences at Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN. She served in the full time faculty at Indiana University until the Fall of 2009 serving there as Director of the Microbial Caries Model Facility, which is part of the Oral Health Research Institute; director of the Oral Biofilms in Caries Assessment and Management Research Program; and also Director of Predoctoral Education (Caries Management Program) for the Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry. She currently maintains an Affiliate position at Indiana University. She has always been very involved in teaching (problem based learning, laboratory and didactic) in Cariology in the DDS, postdoctoral and dental hygiene programs. She is currently codirector of the cariology I and II courses, and cariology discipline co-coordinator at the School of Dentistry. As a principal investigator, she has received research grants from the National Institute of Health, the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, the Delta Dental Fund, and private industry. Dr. Fontana has lectured as an invited speaker in different countries being recognized for her work in the field of Cariology. She was the first president for the Indiana Chapter of the Hispanic Dental Association, and has been a member for many years of the International Association for Dental Research, the European Organization for Caries Research (ORCA), and the American Society for Microbiology. She was the 2007-2008 President of the Cariology group of the International Association for Dental Research, the 2010-2011 Chair of the newly approved Cariology Section of the American Dental Education Association, and a Fellow in the 2011-2012 class of the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Program for Women. In 2012 she received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for her work on caries risk assessment in children.


Dr. Fontana's clinical research interests relate primarily to caries management in children, including risk assessment, dental sealants, oral biofilms as it relates to caries development and/or prevention (and included in this area, therapies that may affect the biofilm, such as xylitol), secondary caries, caries remineralization, and early caries detection. Her work has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the Delta Dental Foundation, and private industry.


Dr. Fontana is greatly involved and interested in the teaching of Cariology to pre-doctoral DDS and dental hygiene students, as well as graduate students. She is currently codirector of the cariology I and II courses and co-coordinator for the discipline of cariology in the curriculum. Additionally, she regularly mentors students conducting research projects in Cariology. Dr. Fontana is also interested in developing and integrating new teaching methods to improve the education of dental students, and in developing a caries risk-based management program that will help develop competent dentists in the area of caries disease management, promote critical thinking and use of evidence based information in order to improve the oral health of patients and the community.


Interview with Margherita Fontana

"I believe that risk-based management is really where healthcare is going, and oral and dental healthcare should be going. Personalized dentistry, personalized care, risk-based care are really the cornerstones of hopefully helping people stay healthy - which should be the goal."

Discussing the future with Margherita Fontana

"My greatest hope for tomorrow is that people are willing to think outside the box, and to think and ask difficult questions that we might not have the answer to – because it's only with good questions that we can find good answers."