Skip to main content

03 July 2024

Clinical teacher first dental hygienist to complete a PhD at King's College London

Claire McCarthy, Clinical Teacher and Clinical Research Fellow, has made history as the first Dental Hygienist to complete a PhD in Clinical Dentistry at King’s College London. She now joins an elite group of dental hygienists in the UK who hold a PhD.

(L-R) Professor Luigi Nibali, Dr. Jean Suvan, Claire McCarthy (centre), Professor Damien Walmsley, Professor Michael Fenlon

Claire McCarthy qualified as a dental hygienist from Trinity College Dublin in 2000. She joined King's in 2004 as a tutor in the School of Dental Hygiene and Therapy. In 2007, she completed a Master’s degree in higher education and joined the department of Periodontology as a Senior Clinical Teacher. Her commitment to curriculum development led her to roles as course coordinator of year 1 and 2 undergraduate periodontology programmes prior to commencing her PhD. Claire currently teaches undergraduate year 3 and 4 dental students, and post-graduate periodontology students in addition to her clinical research position.

Claire reflected on her achievement: "I am grateful for the support from my supervisors and colleagues at King’s College London. This accomplishment represents a significant milestone in my career, and I look forward to continuing my work in dental research and education."

Claire's PhD research, supervised by Professor Michael Fenlon and Professor Luigi Nibali, focused on ultrasonic instrumentation, specifically on aerosol reduction and device performance. Her project centred on an innovative approach to addressing aerosols produced during ultrasonic scaler activation by modifying the physical properties of the coolant fluid.

Claire's supervisor, Michael Fenlon, Professor of Prosthodontics at King’s College London said:

“Claire was a very hard-working, diligent researcher. Her research, which will change clinical practice, is strongly supported by industry. Claire continues to work on innovative clinical research which will result in new products to improve patient care.”

Claire's research will be presented at the International Symposium in Dental Hygiene in Seoul, South Korea next month, providing an opportunity to share her findings with the wider scientific community.

“Completing this PhD is a huge milestone in my career, and makes history for King’s and the faculty, and for the profession of Dental Hygiene in the UK. I am so honored to be in this position and to have completed my PhD at KCL after working here for 20 years,” Claire concludes.