Dr. Rella Christensen

March 21, 2012
Issue 9

When Dr. Rella Christensen calls herself a “Mama Bear,” she is referring to her oversight of a close-knit team at the non-profits she co-founded. But it might also be extended to her wider role in the dental industry of helping ensure the efficacy of dental products and concepts.

When Dr. Rella Christensen calls herself a “Mama Bear,” she is referring to her oversight of a close-knit team at the non-profits she co-founded. But it might also be extended to her wider role in the dental industry of helping ensure the efficacy of dental products and concepts.

She co-founded the CRA Foundation with her husband, Gordon, a dentist, and served as its Director for 27 years and as chairman of its Board of Directors for two years. Today, she is the team leader of Technologies in Restorative and Caries Research (TRAC Research), a non-profit dedicated to in-depth and long-term clinical studies of restorative materials, preventive dentistry and dental caries.

Helping others in dentistry find tools and concepts that really work on the frontlines of treating patients is a passion for Rella.

“It’s important that products be clinically useful as well as efficacious,” she said. “There are products that are efficacious, but they’re not useful in clinical settings because they may be too complicated, take too long to use, destroy tissue or have other similar issues.” An abundance of products makes it difficult for clinicians to wade through what is available.

“Dental clinicians are offered many products and it’s very difficult to make choices,” she said. “The clinicians have a lot of questions about what works and what doesn’t.”

Rella received a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene from the University of Southern California in 1960, and practiced dental hygiene for more than 25 years. She started the bachelor degree expanded function dental hygiene program at the University of Colorado in 1970, and was its first director. She earned a PhD in physiology, with an emphasis on microbiology, from Brigham Young University in 1986, and completed a post-graduate course in anaerobic microbiology at Virginia Polytechnic State University under the leadership of the well respected Moore team.

She wants to see the industry embrace objective scientific reviews of products and concepts, and see professionals take the time to do their own clinical research by tracking performance in patients.