Mary P. Walker, DDS, PhD



Title: Impact of radiotherapy on tooth structure and function

Learning Objectives:

  1. Hear about technologies that can be used for the non-destructive, systematic evaluation of various materials and interfaces in terms of mechanical properties, chemical structure, and associated function.
  2. Discuss updated information regarding the dentin-enamel interfacial structure.
  3. Review potential radiotherapy effects on the properties and structure of teeth that may impact the post-radiation stability of the dentition.


Evidence from our clinical study and other investigations suggests a direct effect of radiation on the dentition.  To understand the mechanism of radiation-induced dental lesions characterized by shear fracture of enamel, our laboratory is currently using a systematic evaluation of tooth structure via innovative instrumentation and technology such as Raman microspectroscopy, atomic force microscopy/nanoindentation, confocal microscopy, and electron microscopy.  Using this approach provides information about the associated chemical structure, nano-mechanical properties, and morphology of the DEJ interface and adjacent enamel and dentin prior to and after radiotherapy to potentially explain altered structure/function characteristics of radiated teeth.  Results to date suggest post-radiation changes in the chemical profile and nano-mechanical properties of enamel near the DEJ, which may be potentially linked to changes in the crystalline structure and enamel-associated proteins adjacent to the DEJ. 


In addition to serving as the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry,Dr. Walker is a professor in the departments of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences and Restorative Clinical Sciences.  She also serves as the program director for the Oral Biology PhD and MS degree programs and teaches Biomaterials to graduate students and dental specialty residents. Besides a prosthodontics specialty certificate, Dr. Walker has an MS and PhD degree.  Before joining the UMKC faculty, she was a faculty member of the College of Dentistry, University of Nebraska Medical Center. Prior to her academic career, Dr. Walker owned a solo general dentistry practice.

Dr. Walker is a member of numerous professional organizations including American Academy of Dental Materials, American College of Prosthodontists, and International and American Association of Dental Research and is currently a member-at-large on the AADR Board of Directors. She served on the editorial board of the Journal of Dental Research and currently serves on the board for Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry and International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Implants.