Professor Mark Hector


Dentistry Office, School of Dentistry

Portrait photo of Mark Hector
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Dental School


Mark Hector was born in Nairobi, Kenya and first graduated in Physiology, then in Dentistry in 1981 from Guys Hospital. There followed 3 years at the University of Bristol and Kings College, London after which he received his PhD. Following 3 years in oral medicine and pathology at Guys Hospital Dental School he was recruited to The London Hospital Medical College as a lecturer in Child Dental Health. He gained his Readership in 2001 and in 2002 became Professor of Oral Health of Children at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. Between 2009-11 he was President of the International Association of Paediatric Dentistry.

Mark Hector took up his position as Dean of Dentistry and Professor of Oral Health of Children at Dundee University in August 2011.

To maintain a degree of sanity he is a silversmith.


My research to date has been based on the physiological control of salivary secretion and the role of saliva in the maintenance of the healthy mouth in children and adults. The range of research projects I am now involved with reflects by broad interest and knowledge of oral biology and its applications to clinical problems encountered in both paediatric and adult dentistry. I have successfully supervised 3 post doc RAs, 11 PhD students, and co-supervising 3 others.

My breadth of knowledge in a wide range of topics and my research experience is reflected by regularly being asked to examine doctoral theses (17 to date). I have much experience in supervising taught postgraduate student research projects, with over 30 students presenting their work at international meetings. Of the 50-plus masters students I have supervised, 10 have been awarded distinction overall and a further 6 received distinction grades for their projects. We have thrice (1995, 1997 and 2005) won the highly prestigious biennial Bengt Magnussen Memorial Prize and in 2001 the Morita Prize by the International Association of Paediatric Dentistry. In 2006 one of my students won the Young Scientist Award from the European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry. In 2010 another won the Mineralised tissue prize of EAPD.

Dental Caries, Enamel Erosion and Salivary Proteins

Mechanisms by which salivary calcium, phosphate and fluoride interact with salivary proteins on the tooth surface to both prevent demineralisation and promote remineralisation of deciduous and permanent enamel with Dr Paul Anderson and Jelena Kosoric. This latter work was made possible through grants (£123,000) to build a computer driven Scanning Micro-Radiographic facility allowing us to capture real-time effects over periods of several weeks This work resulted in both UK and European Patents to cover the use of the peptide in oral care products aimed at older patients suffering from xerostomia (mouthwash) and toothpastes for general use. We also secured funding for proof of concept studies and another 2 studentship to look at the efficacy of different amino acid sequencing on the Calcium binding and enamel protective properties of this peptide work towards the development of In vivo intra oral devices to test the efficacy of these novel peptides in prevention of erosion.

Masticatory function and food selection with implant stabilized dentures

There is a growing appreciation that elderly people have increasing difficulties in selecting foods that they can chew effectively. This becomes even more apparent when they are reliant on complete or partial dentures. Together with Prof. Paul Wright and Prof. Robin Heath and Dr.Robin.Crompton (University of Liverpool) we were awarded BBSRC funding (£375,048) for the development and validation of a numerical model of food comminution. An important follow-on project will be the role that saliva has in the handling and comminution of food prior to bolus formation in the mouth and swallowing. It has offered us an insight into the pattern of food selection by individuals who have impaired masticatory function. As part of this a PhD student successfully developed an objective in vitro and in vivo methods to measure the forces needed to bite through food and in particular to determine how changing the morphology of the prosthetic teeth influences the chewing efficiency.

Dentine hypersensitivity

Affecting over 25% of the adult population dentine hypersensitivity is a distressing condition leading to considerable reduction in quality of life. Dr Anderson and I had a funded PhD studentship with an ORS award and a CASE award from Glaxo-Smith-Kline to look at both the structure of dentine in relation to hypersensitivity and the mass transport of ions through dentine with the aim of better understanding and developing systems to manage this very common condition.

Radiographic ageing of children

With large numbers of children being involved in emigration from their homelands it is becoming apparent that the existing indices for the estimation their age are needed. It is also necessary for forensic (including mass graves) and archaeological sites where human child remains are discovered. Dr Helen Liversidge and I have conducted a number of studies to determine whether dental radiographs are an effective means to do this. This has involved population-based studies of ethnically homogenous groups (Caucasian, Bengali) and is expanding to include peoples from the middle east, African states (Somalia, central and southern) Australia/New Zealand and the Far East. This study has investigated the effects of chronic malnutrition and sickness so that we understand the effects these have on growth and development of the dentition. This has led to the publication of an Atlas of Tooth Development and Eruption.

View full research profile and publications


I have extensive experience in teaching in both basic medical sciences and clinical disciplines at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. My teaching is well received, and regularly highly reviewed by our students.

Whilst at Queen Mary, University of London, I was responsible for the research, process of consultation, planning and presentation of the 1999 dental curriculum strategy, and also had responsibility to ensure that the implementation of this innovative course was managed effectively and efficiently.

I had responsibility for Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy training and have taken a very close interest in their clinical training in paediatric dentistry, and took over responsibility for Dental Nurse Training at Barts and The London and oversaw the planning a new curriculum reflecting the (then draft) GDC outcomes-based document.

I designed and implemented the Intercalated Degree programme in Oral Biology (8 modules).

In postgraduate taught courses, I was responsible for writing writing and implementing the two-year full-time MClinDent in Paediatric Dentistry and a full time MSc in Oral Biology.